Georgia Household Trans Detainee Wins $ 2.2M in Wrongful Dying Settlement

The Georgia prison system has agreed to pay the family of a transgender woman who died of suicide in a men’s prison after being mocked and encouraged by guards to pay $ 2.2 million in severance pay for wrongful death.

It is one of the largest settlements of its kind in the state, according to CNN, which first covered the news. It goes to the family of Jenna Mitchell, who died on December 6, 2017 in Valdosta State Prison when she was just under 25 years old.

Mitchell was jailed for a robbery in Valdosta in 2015 and served a term of up to 10 years. Prison officials had put her in solitary confinement at various times over several months. At the time of her death, she had been in solitary confinement for two weeks. She was told she had been “moved to the transgender detention center,” according to a lawsuit filed by her parents in 2019.

She sent her parents a letter “saying she was doing a ‘suicide stunt'”, reports NBC News. Her mother, Sheba Maree, called prison staff on December 2 to warn her to keep an eye on Mitchell, who had suffered from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and gender identity issues. Two days later, Mitchell hanged herself in her cell with sheets on.

One inmate who worked as a nurse told family lawyers that immediately before a correctional officer doing his rounds in prison had responded to Mitchell’s suicide threat by saying, “OK, what are you waiting for, do it.” The nurse tried to get the officer and a sergeant to help Mitchell, but they walked away despite her shouting, “Don’t leave me,” the nurse’s statement quoted by CNN. There was a 10 minute delay in knocking them down.

The officer and sergeant denied making any taunts and said they had to send another agent to get the right tools to strike them down. However, she fell into a coma and died two days after being hanged.

“You killed my child; You haven’t done anything to help my child, “Maree told CNN. Both Maree and lawyer David Shanies, who represented the family, said there was only the most superficial investigation into the actions of prison staff. They asked for a more thorough investigation.

The US Department of Justice has already launched an investigation into conditions in Georgia prisons, which have received much criticism, and Shanies and the family have urged the DOJ and state officials to hold staff accountable.

“There’s no question they should,” Shanies said in a statement, according to NBC News. “Even a record-breaking civil remediation cannot repair the damage caused by this terrible event.”

“The financial deal is barely fair,” Maree told CNN. “I’d rather have my child … nothing will ever, ever, ever, ever take my child’s place. To me this is blood money and I will not stop until those involved in their death are held accountable. “

CNN asked prison officials for comment but has not yet received a response.

If you are a transgender or gender-irregular person considering suicide, you can contact Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860. LGBTQ + teenagers (24 and under) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at (866) 488-7386. You can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 is available 24/7 to people of all ages and identities.