California pays $2.25 million to family of brain-damaged inmate

A lawsuit alleged a Ventura Youth Correctional Facility guard violated the prison’s suicide prevention policy by allowing the 16-year-old girl to cover her cell door window. She was found hanging.


By Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times
California prisons have paid $2.25 million to the family of an inmate left severely brain-damaged after she tried to hang herself in the mental health unit of the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo.

The family’s lawsuit alleged that a guard violated the prison’s suicide prevention policy by allowing then-16-year-old Shanelle Crawford to cover the window in the door of her cell in May 2008, making it impossible for staff to see inside.

In a 2009 deposition, the male guard said he occasionally let girls cover their windows for “a minute or two” while they used the toilet or undressed for the shower.

The extent of Crawford’s brain trauma suggested that she could have been hanging for eight to 10 minutes before guards forced their way into the cell and freed her from the noose she’d fashioned from a bedsheet, according to a neurologist hired by the family’s lawyer, Ronald Kaye.

Robert Crawford, the girl’s father, said he learned of the suicide attempt when an inmate advocacy group tracked him down in Texas a few days later. He didn’t grasp how desperate his daughter’s plight was until he reached the hospital in California and the doctor gave him a stark choice: “I could pull the plug or she would live as a vegetable for the rest of her life,” Crawford said.

Like many of the wards in Shanelle Crawford’s wing of the Ventura facility, she was profoundly troubled. She suffered from major depression, had been a victim of sexual abuse and had made a serious suicide attempt two years earlier, court records show.

Continue Reading @ LA Times

2 thoughts on “California pays $2.25 million to family of brain-damaged inmate

  1. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where the blame of this situation is placed on the Correctional Officer rather than the female that tried to kill herself. You would think he would be commended for saving her life by finding her before she died.


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