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$500,000 Settlement in Connecticut Suicide

On April 14, 2003, the family of a prisoner who committed suicide in 1996 while in a Connecticut prison settled with the state for $500,000.

William Dumais, 19, was imprisoned in the Corrigan Correctional Institution in Uncasville from December 1995 to February 1996 on a charge of fourth-degree larceny. On his first full day at the prison, he was seen by a psychiatric nurse and placed on medication after he was discovered "crying and talking about killing himself," according to the lawsuit filed by his family.

Dumais was released in February but returned to Corrigan in April 1996 after he failed to appear on time at a court hearing. According to the lawsuit, which was scheduled for trial May 21, 2003, a nurse at Corrigan failed to properly review medical records and therefore did not notice his psychiatric history. Two days later, Dumais hung himself.

Dumais had a history of depression. He had tried to kill himself on many occasions, the lawsuit revealed. In one incident, at the age of 14, he commandeered his father's car and crashed it into a tree. He told medical personnel he had "wanted to kill himself." In other incidents he had cut his wrists and had been caught by police laying on railroad tracks.

Dumais' suicide attempts continued at Corrigan. According to the lawsuit, Dumais cut himself in one incident, in another he confided to a fellow prisoner that he was either going to leap from a second-story balcony or poison himself.

Attorney for the family, Robert Reardon, says the state was wrong for dragging out the case for so long and then settling just before trial. "I'm sure they could have done so years ago," Reardon said. "It was a very painful experience for the family to go through."

Source: Hartford Courant

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