Family sues Georgia Dept of Corrections over 2017 Transgender Suicide


The parents of Transgender woman Jenna Mitchell are suing the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) over their daughters suicide.  In the lawsuit, GDC says she hung herself while an inmate in a Valdosta State Prison (VSP) and died at the hospital a few days later.

 WALB News 10 reports that Jenna Mitchell was seen with a rope around her neck threatening to hang herself at 1:30 pm.

The guards then taunted her and walked away. When they returned they did not lift her up to stop her strangling and did not call an ambulance when it was determined that she was unconsious. An ambulance was called but not until a tower guard did so later. 

The four defendants in the lawsuit are GDC, the warden at the time, Don Blakely, a correctional officer at the time, James Igou, and the Georgia Board of Regents. The regents board is named because it manages Augusta University’s program called Georgia Correctional Healthcare, which provides health care for inmates, including mental health care. 

Court documents show Mitchell was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery by intimidation in Union County in 2015.

In their lawsuit, Mitchell’s parents claim she died while in VSP because the prison and its employees failed to keep her safe.

They believe that violated her rights under the constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuit said Mitchell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and gender dysphoria and had a history of hurting herself.

Her parents said in the lawsuit they believe prison staff knew this and knew she intended to commit suicide on December 4, 2017.

The lawsuit focuses a lot on what happened between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. that day.

Around 1:30 p.m., the suit says Mitchell asked an attendant to find corrections officer, James Igou, and a sergeant, Wallace Richardson.

The lawsuit said Igou went to Mitchell’s cell and saw a noose around her neck.

The suit accuses Igou of taunting her and encouraging her to commit suicide.

Around 1:35 p.m., they say Igou walked away, and at least one other inmate told him Mitchell was committing suicide.

They say he laughed and shouted that she should wait until he got back because he “wanted to see.”
Before he returned, the lawsuit says Mitchell hanged herself.

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