Settlement- Associated Press
Inmates’ Families, Jail Reach Deal Over Mistreatment
POSTED: 2:21 pm CST February 20, 2007
UPDATED: 2:54 pm CST February 20, 2007
DALLAS — County officials approved a nearly $1 million settlement Tuesday with the families of three mentally ill inmates who were denied medication while in the seventh-largest detention complex in the country.
Just over half of the award went to James Mims, a Dallas County Jail inmate whose psychiatric medications were withheld for two months in 2004, his attorney David Finn said. Mims also nearly died when water was shut off in his cell for two weeks.
“They could just not afford to have this case go before a jury,” Finn said.
Commissioners approved the $950,000 agreement without discussion.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed in December 2004 on behalf of inmates Mims, Kennedy Nickerson and Clarence Lee Grant Jr., who died in custody.
Grant, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was found dead in his cell after not receiving medicine for five days in 2003, according to court records.
Nickerson, who also has paranoid schizophrenia, was released from jail in 2003 without medication. A few days later he was found on the street dehydrated, suffering from fever and seizures, court records show.
The agreement is only one step in addressing the mounting problems faced by the county in its oversight of the troubled detention complex.
A federal report issued in December determined that the jail violates the constitutional rights of inmates by failing to provide adequate medical and mental health care. The violations are detailed in a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, which also found that inmates are not kept in safe or sanitary conditions.
Federal authorities have directed county officials to fix the problems, warning that a lawsuit could be filed. The matter is still pending.
In 2005, a separate report found that lapses in medical care in the jail system resulted in undetected illnesses, excess costs and risks to the public. That report was produced partly as a response to the near-death of Mims.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was instrumental in the case being settled, Finn said