The Family of Inmate Who Died in a Filthy Padded Isolation Cell Awarded $7.25 Million Settlement

( – When criminals are incarcerated, they lose some of their constitutional rights. However, one that remains in effect is the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual treatment. That means that inmates are afforded a minimum standard of living. Yet, one jail left one of its prisoners in such dire conditions that he died. Now, his family has received a multimillion-dollar settlement.

In 2021, Joshua McLemore experienced an “acute mental health crisis” that landed him in an emergency room. While there, he pulled a nurse’s hair and was subsequently arrested for assault for the incident. Authorities booked him into Indiana’s Jackson County Jail, and because of his behavior, he was placed in an isolated, padded cell. He would later die in that cell.

The lawsuit against the county alleges that while McLemore, who suffered from schizophrenia, was in jail, he had no access to mental health staff, which the facility did not employ. Attorneys for the family also claim the one nurse who did visit didn’t engage with the inmate, nor did they seem to address the risks he was facing. McLemore stayed in the cell for 20 days, in a state of psychosis, before he died. The cause of death was listed as “multiple organ failure due to refusal to eat or drink with altered mental status due to untreated schizophrenia.”

Pictures surfaced of the cell showing the inmate naked with feces all around him. The lawsuit alleges he remained in the cell at all times except for “when guards would forcibly remove him and strap him into restraint devices so they could put him under a shower and clean his cell,” per Law & Crime. When he entered the jail, McLemore weighed nearly 198 pounds. Just under three weeks later, he had lost 45 pounds, according to court documents.

The county ended up settling the case with the family and paying $7.25 million.

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