Lawsuit claims guards joked, bet on inmate’s suicidal tendencies

Mar 2, 2017

A federal lawsuit claims state prison guards joked and made a bet on whether an inmate would try to kill herself before she took her own life.

Those are just two of the allegations in a sweeping lawsuit filed by the family of Janika Edmonds in the U.S. District Court in Detroit that names the Michigan Department of Corrections, a warden, a deputy warden, and 11 corrections officers as defendants.

The lawsuit says much of the evidence was captured by security cameras in the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility. The lawsuit says that includes video of guards joking and ignoring the 25-year-old inmate’s requests for a suicide prevention vest.

The lawsuit says administrators and guards at the state’s only prison for female inmates ignored clear warning signs and Edmonds’ requests for help before she hung herself. It says two of the guards placed a bet on whether Edmonds would attempt suicide.

It also says the state Department of Corrections was aware that ignoring inmates’ mental health conditions was an ongoing problem at the women’s prison. The legal action says the guards disregarded procedures for dealing with mental health issues and violated Edmonds’ constitutional rights, including the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

The Corrections Department does not comment on pending legal actions.