Recently, the Miami Herald reported on a tragic story out of West Bradenton, Florida. A 15-year-old girl took her own life while in custody at the Manatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center. The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) confirmed to reporters that the young girl was found unresponsive in her cell during a nightly check. It is believed that she hanged herself with a makeshift noose that was made out of a sports bra.
This is a truly terrible tragedy. Disturbingly, there is strong evidence to suggest that it could and should have been prevented. Proper safety precautions may have saved this vulnerable victim’s life.
The 15-year-old girl had been in juvenile custody many other times, and she was previously placed on a ‘suicide alert’. Her history of mental health issues was well known to the authorities. However, her father told the Miami Herald that suicide precautions were not in place when her death occurred.
Bradenton Police: Negligence May Have Contributed to the Death
The Bradenton Police Department informed reporters that this death is still under official investigation. While the evidence does suggest that the death is consistent with a suicide, and foul play is not suspected, police told reporters that the staff at the facility may have been negligent.
In a juvenile detention facility, staff members have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of every child in their care. In this case, the victim had an established history of struggling with depression and mental health issues. Yet, it appears that necessary suicide precautions were removed.
Civil Rights: Wrongful Death Claims Against Law Enforcement/Prisons
Sadly, this is not the first time that a Florida juvenile correction center has had an issue with a potentially avoidable death at their facility. The Miami Herald reports that thirteen “questionable” deaths of minors have occurred at Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) licensed facilities in the last two decades.
Law enforcement agencies, prisons, and juvenile centers have a duty to provide adequate care and protection for any person in their custody. The failure to do so is negligence, and it may be a civil rights violation. When negligence leads to a fatality, including the avoidable suicide of a teenager, the responsible parties may be held legally liable. This is typically done through a wrongful death claim. If you are considering bringing a wrongful death lawsuit in Miami, FL, it is imperative that you obtain qualified legal representation. Wrongful death cases are extremely complex.
Get Help From a Compassionate Miami Wrongful Death Lawyer
If your family needs legal assistance from a wrongful death attorney, the compassionate legal team at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum, LLP is here to help. No family should be forced to deal with a death that was caused by negligence. We help South Florida families get answers, accountability, and full financial compensation. To get free legal guidance, please do not hesitate to contact our Miami office today at 305-371-2692.