Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, was jailed last April for stealing $5 worth of food from a convenience store in Portsmouth, Virginia. According to a new lawsuit put forth by his family members, he was allegedly starved to death in his cell after spending four months in inhumane living conditions with an untreated mental illness. He suffered severe bipolar psychosis, but his symptoms were not properly treated during the four months he spent in prison.
Mitchell’s family is now suing the jail for $60 million for maltreatment. Mitchell’s aunt Roxanne Adams told CNN that the family is demanding a jury trial and suing the jail on five different counts of civil rights violations.
Justin Dillon, a former inmate at the Portsmouth City Jail in Virginia, found Mitchell dead in his cell from heart failure due to starvation.
In an interview, Dillon told CNN, “The way Jamycheal got treated, well, it was just terrible. He didn’t deserve it.” He explained how Mitchell’s cell was stripped of literally everything, including a spoon, cup, pillow, and even a toilet. “He had nothing,” Dillon said. Mitchell was forced to sleep naked on a metal frame and surrounded by his own excrement.
Dillon confirmed Mitchell’s family claims that jail staff mocked him, beat him, and intentionally starved him. “He looked terrible; he looked like a stick,” Dillon said of Mitchell, who died at 144 pounds.
Mitchell’s mental health was not monitored properly by the health care staff, NaphCare, at the jail. His weight was not checked, nor was there a record to indicate whether or not he was taking his psychiatric medications. Mitchell may not have been able to comply with the jail’s food service rules if he was suffering from psychosis caused from his mania.
An attorney for NaphCare cast the blame for Mitchell’s starvation on the state’s weak mental health system, stating that NaphCare employees had taken “appropriate steps” to have Mitchell transferred to a mental health facility. But, according to a report from WKTR, there is no record that the mental hospital ever received the request for Mitchell’s transfer.
Accordingly, there is no proof that Portsmouth City Jail gave Mitchell the healthcare that he needed in order to stay healthy and sane, according to the CNN report.
About 13% of Virginia prison inmates suffer from a mental illness, but Dillon argued that the jail wasn’t capable of caring for someone with his mental condition.
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