Indiana State Prison facing $20M lawsuit for inmate’s stabbing death

The Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. (IL file photo)

The family of a man who was stabbed to death by another inmate in the Indiana State Prison has filed a $20 million civil rights lawsuit against prison officials.

Court documents show Juwan Jones was involved in a conversation with another inmate, Charles Johnson, that turned into a “severe argument” in Jones’ cell on Oct. 14, 2021, at the state penitentiary in Michigan City. Jones, 25, was serving a 30-year sentence for attempted murder and aggravated battery.

According to the complaint, Johnson threatened to kill Jones during the argument then went back to his own cell, where he retrieved a “sharpened metal object.”

The complaint alleges 10 unnamed officers could have heard the argument if they were paying attention, “instead of consciously disregarding their duty to prevent violence between inmates.” The complaint also alleges no prison staff intervened.

Johnson returned to Jones’ cell, and they had a second argument, according to court documents. Johnson then “brutally and viciously stabbed Jones three times with an unknown sharp object behind his right leg, causing very severe bleeding.”

The complaint alleges prison officials and officers delayed for at least 20 minutes before responding. Jones allegedly was left bleeding on the floor of his cell from about 2:50 to 3:11 p.m., while other inmates yelled and responded.

According to the complaint, Johnson had a violent history both prior to incarceration and in prison. He was serving six years for aggravated battery and eight years for illegal possession of a firearm.

Prison personnel found Jones bleeding on the floor of his cell and attempted to render medical aid, but didn’t call 911, according to the complaint. The complaint further alleges the stab wounds to Jones’ leg weren’t life-threatening alone, but the delay in care was the reason he died.

Emergency medical personnel eventually transported Jones to a hospital at 3:53 p.m., according to court documents. He later suffered from hemorrhagic shock and multiorgan failure.

Jones was pronounced dead at 2:23 p.m. the next day.

The lawsuit alleges Indiana State Prison “has a pervasive culture of a lack of security and chronic under-staffing, staffing neglect and poor supervisory mismanagement.”

The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana by the group Black Lawyers for Justice, which requested a jury trial, a $20 million judgment and other damages.

All defendants are accused in the lawsuit of wrongful death, failure to protect, failure to intervene and other counts. The unnamed officers are additionally being sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

An Indiana State Prison spokesperson said they could not comment on pending litigation.

The case is Robin Jones v. Ron Neal, et al., 3:23-cv-221.

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