Prichard Inmate Dies from Beating

An inmate from the Prichard City Jail died yesterday after being beaten up by another inmate.  Died.  Of massive brain injury.  He was incarcerated because of unpaid fines related to parking tickets and misdemeanor arrests.  He was mentally ill.  He was 42, and he died with his mother at his side, watching her child slip away from her.

The beating took place on August 31, following a dispute over changing the channel on the jail TV.  The attacker was first charged with second degree assault, but that charge was later reduced to third degree.

Take a minute to absorb this.  Something is very wrong here.  I don’t know about you, but I feel sick.

14 Responses to “Prichard Inmate Dies from Beating”

  1. Cindi says:

    Nothing surprises me anymore. And yes, sick is a good word. I will never understand why we put folks who owe tickets in jail in the first place. But to have someone who is so obviously mentally ill, with the proof, left as prize to thugs who should be in jail in the first place??? And then to lower the charge? What happened to murder charges? I hope this mother will sue the living daylights out of the City of Prichard…and win…big.

  2. Cola says:

    Seriously, this is what we’ve got?

  3. Vivelafat says:

    I went to jail and unpaid ticket once. I was there for 12 hours. It was horrible. I can not imagine being hurt while I was in there. I’m actually crying at the thought of this poor man.

  4. Kathy says:

    To be fair — and I wasn’t clear in the post — the charge was reduced before the man died, and I think (hope?) there will be a reconsideration now. But the mere fact that he ended up in the hospital so severely injured makes me wonder why it was reduced in the first place.

    And I do know that this isn’t all the fault of the guard(s) present on the day of the attack. Prichard is a poor community, and the government is, I hear, one step away from bankruptcy. There are layers and layers of failure throughout the system that led to this tragedy.

  5. Renee says:

    Cause it makes so much sense to incarcerate someone for an unpaid fine and then to further allow them to beaten to death because the prison industrial complex cannot deal with the mentally ill. That poor man. Yet another life lost to the system.

  6. Crissa says:

    A city jail is hardly ‘the prison industrial complex’. It’s where they put people while they’re busy doing other things. They didn’t have close enough supervision, but it’s possible to get a fatal injury very quickly. City/county jails have an out for being small, but they’re also sources of terrible violations of rights. Maybe if we really did deal with this on a federal level, small and large communities would have someone to turn to on how to keep people safe when they’re in custody.

    Still, I hope the charge is changed to murder, as that is what this was. Death resulting as injuries intentionally given.

    How horrible.

  7. always interested says:

    I live in a place where unpaid parking tickets could affect one’s ability to renew car insurance–and driving without insurance is a problem of its own kind–but to incarcerate someone for not paying parking tickets (and a mentally ill person, at that) makes no sense whatsover. The comment about the poverty of this town suggests that there is understaffing in the jails, so that incarcerating someone for misdemeanors makes even less sense. How tragic, and preventable.

  8. Del says:

    Well, there’s a follow-up today. Two weeks before they put him in jail. a Prichard judge refused to allow him a mental evaluation. His mama had been trying to get him committed. Looks like he started the fight; the other guy hit him once and he hit his head when he fell, or at least that’s the story they’re sticking with. Mama isn’t surprised:

    “[s]he said he should never have been allowed to mix with other inmates because of his paranoia and antagonistic tendencies.

    In 2001, Frank McDevitt was committed to Searcy, where he was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. During his stay at the hospital, he beat an old man “because he was getting on his nerves,” Marie-Reine McDevitt said.

    I’m betting this ends with Marie-Reine McDevitt (and her attorney) getting a healthy sum of money as a Providential reward for what must have been 42 years of hell (her son “threatened his parents’ lives on more than one occasion”), paid from the city coffers of Prichard, which is barely able to keep the lights on in City Hall. One or more jail employees may lose their jobs, even though they can hardly be expected to stop and consider whether every inmate who acts like an asshole might actually be mentally ill. The judge may get into trouble, which doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, although the guy “had been in and out of jail most of his life,” so it’s possible the judge thought he was simply being Tough On Crime. (It will come as no surprise to you that Prichard has a huge crime problem.) And the poor slob who delivered the blow may wind up charged with murder.

    All this because the State of Alabama delivers what may be the most abysmally poor care for its mentally ill in the entire country.

  9. Kathy says:

    All this because the State of Alabama delivers what may be the most abysmally poor care for its mentally ill in the entire country.

    And that’s really saying something, considering how much it sucks in general. This is what happens, I guess, in a society where someone who has been this dangerous and violent for so many years is just written off as “mean” rather than mentally disturbed. Perhaps there is no treatment for his disorder (I honestly don’t know), but it appears that, as usual, we as a society will be spending more to clean up the mess than we would have to prevent it. Brilliant policy. Just brilliant.

  10. Loretta Nall says:

    Bill Dawson, a federal atty in BHAM won a suit against Jefferson County last year for jailing people simply for inability to pay fines on misdemeanor charges. It is clearly unconstitutional and BHAM agreed to stop the practice. Prichard is about to have their ass handed to them over this.

  11. Del says:

    I dont’ think it was just the parking tickets, Loretta. The story mentioned drugs.

    His obit was in the paper today too. It was very touching – talked about his love for cats. My heart goes out to the family, who clearly have done a lot of suffering.

    Unfortunately, I think some of the blame for this may also lay with the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of the mentally ill. It may not have been so easy (even with a better mental health system than Alabama possesses) to keep this guy locked away and/or on his meds, whatever they may have been. I think there is a lot more to learn about this story, although the paper may not follow up on all of it.

  12. Loretta Nall says:

    Del,

    The stories I read in the Press Register mentioned his mother saying that he had problems with drugs in the past, but no mention was made of his current incarceration being related to drugs. I read traffic tickets and other misdemeanors. Now, second degree possession of marijuana for personal use is a misdemeanor but that still falls under things that people can’t be locked up for just because they are unable to pay the fine.

    There is a new story today with the judge saying a ‘bureaucratic mistake’ is what prevented this man from getting an evaulation as requested by the family.

  13. debra says:

    I wend to school with the deceased. His sister was a few years older than us and was killed in a car crash years ago. This may have been one reason he was mentally ill. He was fine in school as far as I knew. I think he and his sister were very close. I feel bad for his mother losing both of her children the way she did.

  14. Kathy says:

    Debra, what a tragedy for that poor woman. It’s bad enough to lose one child, but two? My sympathies to her.

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