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Prisoner Education Guide

Oklahoma County Pays $150,000 to Settle Suit Over Jail Suicide

by Derek Gilna

Nathan Daniel Bradshaw, 32, hung himself at the Tulsa County, Oklahoma jail, five days after his arrest on a bench warrant for a larceny charge, and died shortly thereafter in a Tulsa hospital. Last year, county commissioners approved a payout of $150,000 to his family in a settlement agreement that did not require them to admit fault. The case was initially filed in state court then removed to federal court.

According to the most recent report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, newly incarcerated prisoners, especially those confined in local jails, are most at risk for suicide. The BJS noted the risk of suicide declines sharply after the first month of incarceration. Bradshaw’s death was yet another indication that jails need to do a better job of screening and monitoring incoming prisoners for possible suicidal tendencies, particularly those housed in single-man cells.

An investigative news site, ReadFrontier.org, requested surveillance video of the hallway outside Bradshaw’s cell under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act, but jail officials refused, stating, “As per your request regarding the Bradshaw case, jail surveillance video is not subject to open record requests per Oklahoma State Statutes.” ReadFrontier suspected that jail officials had not properly monitored the cell prior to Bradshaw’s death, and filed suit to obtain the footage.

According to the same organization, Bradshaw was just one of 30 prisoners at the Tulsa County jail who have either died at the facility or shortly after being transported to a medical facility. That number was determined by examining state medical records and information from the state correctional inspector and the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Bradshaw had a history of felony theft and drug use, had already been through a drug rehabilitation program and received a drug court deferment without jail time. However, he failed to complete the program and a warrant was issued for his arrest, which resulted in his being booked into the Tulsa County jail and subsequent suicide on March 13, 2016.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the jail alleging inadequate medical and mental health care. Most of those actions were settled before extensive discovery had been performed. The Tulsa Board of County Commissioners approved the settlement in Bradshaw’s wrongful death suit during a March 6, 2017 meeting, which directed the Tulsa County District Attorney to “confess judgment without admitting liability.”

The case remains pending against Armor Correctional Health Services; Armor is accused of failing to provide adequate care to Bradshaw, including a failure to provide him with prescribed medication. See: Bradshaw v. Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc., U.S.D.C. (N.D. Okla.), Case No. 4:17-cv-00615-TCK-FHM. 

Additional sources: www.readfrontier.org, www.tulsaworld.com

 

Related legal case

Bradshaw v. Armor Correctional Health Services


 

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