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Alaska Pays $400,000 to Settle Jail Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Suit

by Douglas Ankney

On April 18, 2019, the state of Alaska agreed to pay $400,000 to John Green, the father of Kellsie Green, to settle his lawsuit against the Alaska Department of Corrections over his daughter’s death in an Anchorage jail.

Alaska has a unified corrections system where the DOC runs both state prisons and local jail facilities.

In January 2016, the 24-year-old Kellsie was being held at the jail on a probation violation. Six days later she was dead. Her death certificate indicated she died due to malnutrition, dehydration, renal failure and heart dysrhythmia, and weighed just 80 pounds. [See: PLN, Aug. 2017, p.44].

John Green alleged in his wrongful death suit that Kellsie was a heroin addict and her addiction was apparent and obvious. He also claimed that jail officials failed or refused to provide her with medical care during serious and obvious withdrawal symptoms.

“This isn’t a jail in Turkey or somewhere,” Green remarked. “This is America.”

He settled partly because the state released video, audio, depositions and reports that he said detailed how the system had failed his daughter. According to Green, the state took responsibility for decisions that resulted in Kellsie’s death, including a failure to provide adequate IV fluids and medically supervised drug detoxification.

Further, jail personnel did not respond to the numerous and frequent calls for help from other prisoners in Kellsie’s housing unit.

Green said he hoped the publication of the case materials will cause the state to change its detox procedures. “I’m just mad,” he said. “There’s no reason this should have happened. And it will continue to happen. My biggest fear is it will continue to happen.” See: Green v. Alaska, Superior Court, Third Judicial District at Anchorage (AK), Case No. 3AN-16-05552CI.

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Additional source: Associated Press