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CoreCivic Sued by Former Detainee Stabbed at Shuttered Kansas Jail

by David M. Reutter


In a suit filed in Kansas state court on July 31, 2023, former detainee Joshua Braddy accused private prison profiteer CoreCivic of negligence that resulted in his stabbing at Leavenworth Detention Center (LDC), a now-shuttered lockup formerly operated for the federal government.

Before it closed in December 2021, LDC was a hotbed for drugs and violence, the suit notes; change came only after the U.S. Marshals Service pulled out its detainees to comply with an executive order from Pres. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D) that barred its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), from renewing contracts with private prison operators like CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corp. of America (CCA).

A 2017 DOJ-issued report found understaffing at LDC affected its safety and security with closures of security posts, many in areas of the prison that CCA deemed “mandatory,” needing staff every shift to maintain secure operations. In those that didn’t close, guard vacancies left managerial staff in the posts.

Braddy’s complaint lodged claims against the detainees who stabbed him on July 25, 2021: Alan Sells, Stephan Lundemo and Joseph Uman. Sells and Uman are now held at the U.S. Penitentiary (USP) in Leavenworth, while Lundemo is held at USP McCreary. Braddy, who survived “multiple stab wounds,” suffered severe physical and emotional injuries, his complaint alleged. He also asserted claims for negligence for failure to protect against Warden Sam Rogers, Assistant Warden Joe Raemmich and CCA Health Services Administrator Mindy Graham, as well as CCA/CoreCivic. LDC, he charged, “was so dangerous that Defendants’ operation was substantially certain to result in violence”—so much so that Defendants “may be considered to have acted intentionally.”

“At the very least, they acted recklessly,” his complaint declared.

Basic medical services went unprovided, he added, including “blood pressure checks, weight checks, EKGs, ear irrigations, lab draws, and routine x-rays.” Braddy offered “a sampling of issues leading up to” his stabbing: A detainee was beaten by a group of fellow detainees on February 6, 2021, and “taken to the hospital for life-threatening injuries”; the next day, another detainee threw hot water on a guard and stabbed her and then kicked another guard, sending her to the hospital with severe injuries.

The complaint also notes that two suicides occurred at LDC in early 2021. In one of those cases, guards took no action despite allegedly clear suicidal indications. In the other suicide, guards refused to cut down a detainee who had hanged himself, instead waiting for medics to arrive. In early May 2021, a detainee stabbed another detainee 17 times in an area where there were no guards. That same month a guard digitally penetrated a detainee during a middle-of-the-night search by a Special Operations Response Team. Yet another incident in June 2021 left six to eight prisoners injured with stab wounds.

Reports from federal public defenders with LDC clients called such stabbings “routine” and “almost unnoteworthy.” One said even clients that “have been in the hardest federal prisons” were “terrified” at LDC. Braddy is represented by attorneys with Keenan & Bhatia in Kansas City. See: Braddy v. Sells, Kan. Dist. 29 (Wyandotte Cty.), Case No. 2023-cv-000418.


Additional source: Kansas Reflector

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Related legal case

Braddy v. Sells