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Former Prison Lieutenant Sentenced for Failing to Intervene in Fatal Medical Emergency

The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta following multiple troubling deaths that have occurred on the premises. A former federal prison lieutenant was recently sentenced to three years in prison after an inmate suffered a 30-hour medical crisis and died in what prosecutors described as a “completely preventable” tragedy. The inmate, only identified as W.W., fell more than 15 times and died from blunt-force trauma to the head. The lieutenant, Michael Anderson, was the second-highest ranking officer at the Petersburg Federal Correctional Institution and was found guilty of depriving the inmate of his rights under the color of law.

Despite several officers alerting Anderson to the inmate’s condition, he failed to take action and lied about what he knew. Anderson’s attorney, Jessica Richardson, described the tragedy as a “collective failure of the staff” but stated that Anderson had taken responsibility for his part. The incident began in the early morning hours of January 9, 2021, when the inmate suddenly became ill and was not provided with medical aid. He repeatedly fell in his cell, hitting the floor and walls, and ultimately died from blunt force trauma to the head, suffering skull fractures and scalp hemorrhaging. Anderson failed to prioritize the inmate’s condition and did not provide the necessary assistance that could have saved his life.

Following the inmate’s death, Anderson wrote an official memorandum where he lied about his knowledge of the medical crisis and omitted crucial details. The case highlights concerns about medical neglect and mistreatment of people with mental illness in the U.S. penal system. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that ignoring a person’s serious medical needs while they are imprisoned could amount to cruel and unusual punishment. The Justice Department’s investigation aims to hold correctional officials accountable for disregarding inmates’ serious medical needs.

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