Reminder for those who like to pat themselves on the back for how much more civilized we are what with our modern prison-based penology over, say, a few hours in the public stockades, out of Florida, where inmate Latandra Ellington died this week in Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala.
This was a few weeks after warning her family that a guard had threatened to kill her, and 24 hours after her family had called the prison to warn them about the threats.
Her family's lawyers are seeking federal investigation, Flagerlive reports:
Benjamin Crump and Darryl Parks, lawyers representing Ellington's aunt Algerene Jennings, wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday that a private autopsy by a doctor hired by the family "revealed hemorrhaging caused by blunt force trauma consistent with kicking or punches to the lower abdomen."
The state medical examiner contradicts that report, saying that
"that there was no identifiable trauma anywhere in the body," [Department of Corrections Secretary Mike] Crews said. Toxicology reports have not yet been completed and a cause of death has not yet been determined, he said.
"At this point, that's all we know. So right now what we have is conflicting information between the medical examiner and whoever this physician is or doctor is that the family decided to hire," Crews said.
According to family members, Latandra may have been planning to speak out about rampant sexual abuse that the correctional officers at the prison have been inflicting on the inmates.
For what crime was Ellington segregated from decent society in a form of modern, sophisticated punishment that turned out to be a death sentence?
Fraud charges for filing fake tax returns.
I wrote on a similar theme in June, involving a woman who died in prison (at least not murdered) because of not paying fines for her kids being truant, and last July about a kid beaten in prison for making obvious ridiculous threats in the context of online gaming.
As I wrote then:
This is worth contemplating and thinking more about: being behind bars in America is a goddamn serious thing with goddamn serious consequences, and it's horrible to be used as a quick general interest problem-solving tool.