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Jul 4, 2008

State settles $3.25 million lawsuit over Timothy Souders death in prison Posted by Pat Shellenbarger | The Grand Rapids Press July 01, 2008 18:29PM

Timothy Souders- 3-2005Theresa Vaughn at a Senate hearing 11-2006

A $3.25 million lawsuit settlement in no way makes up for the death of her son in a Michigan prison, Theresa Vaughn said, nor will it stop her campaign to improve prison conditions.

Timothy Souders, 21, died of dehydration and heat exhaustion after nearly four days shackled to a cement slab in a Jackson prison during an August 2006 heat wave, adding urgency to the prison reform movement and prompting Gov. Jennifer Granholm to commission a study of prison health care.

Vaughn said she will donate some of the settlement to two inmate advocacy organizations -- Prison Legal Services and the American Friends Service Committee.

"Just because they settled doesn't mean it stops here," she said. "I plan to continue this fight. Until they change the system where they can't torture people behind closed doors, I will speak out."

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman approved the settlement in Detroit late last month, ending the lawsuit against 35 defendants, including state Corrections Department Director Patricia Caruso, other state employees and Correctional Medical Services, the company under contract to provide medical care in the prisons.

Although a nondisclosure agreement bars Vaughn from talking about the financial details, court records set the total payout at $3.25 million. The state will pay more than $2.8 million of that amount, Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan said.

The rest will be paid by insurance companies representing the defendants, who are not state employees. Attorneys for those insurance companies, not the state, insisted Vaughn sign the nondisclosure agreement.

Timothy Souders, serving a sentence for resisting arrest and destroying police property, was mentally ill and got in trouble for failing to follow prison rules. Surveillance tapes played in a court hearing a couple of months after his death showed him deteriorating mentally and physically during the nearly four days he was shackled in solitary confinement.

Vaughn, of Adrian, said she was surprised when the state and the other defendants agreed to settle the lawsuit. The case was extremely painful for her, she said, as attorneys for the defendants tried to shift the blame for her son's death onto her.

"It's very painful," she said. "Here you've gone through the death of a child, and they're trying to say, 'You didn't care about him, and he got what he deserved.'"

In settling the case, the state did not acknowledge responsibility for Souders' death, but an independent medical monitor in another lawsuit over prison conditions called the prison's use of four-point restraints "torture." As a result of Souders' death, U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen ordered the Corrections Department to stop using four-point restraints as punishment in the Jackson prison complex.

The Corrections Department is developing a policy that would limit the use of restraints throughout the prison system, spokesman Marlan said.



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07/02/08 at 6:14PM

Way to go Feiger!!! They chained up and killed a mentally ill man. He was previously diagnosed as being bipolar. He should never have been in prison in the first place. Thank God for attorneys like Feiger. This was not a frivolous lawsuit.

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Posted: Friday July 4, 2008, 5:00 pm
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Past Member (0)
Friday July 4, 2008, 6:03 pm
Dear Theresa, it is a shame you have had to go through so much through the system. I truly admire your strength and courage. I'm sure your son knows you do the best you can.

Cheryl Benson (390)
Sunday July 6, 2008, 2:27 pm
yes I am still trying to get the help I need and even law firms back off, the medical profession has too much power here. Timothy knows and you have done so much and continue to, blessings to all of you.

Cheryl Benson (390)
Sunday July 6, 2008, 2:30 pm
link isn't working directly to article u can edit it so it does just make sure u copy everything first so u don't loose it from a c2 glitch

Erin C. (0)
Friday April 2, 2010, 9:34 pm
We have politicians lying and cheating us everyday and their put on reality shows or Oprah and when I think of your loss and the circumstance I think vigilante! People have the power, and I will tell as many people I can! XOXOXO

Alberta P. (9)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 8:57 pm
My heart is broken how can we as a nation still have such atrocities, how can this be happening here in America, how can they not lose their jobs, how do they look at themselves as human, how can we look on them as being a part of the human race, this is an outrage, these are the very people who will one day meet the true judge, and pay for these crimes....
A modern democracy is a tyranny whose borders are undefined; one discovers how far one can go only by traveling in a straight line until one is stopped. Do we exert our own liberties without injury to others - we exert them justly; do we exert them at the expense of others - unjustly. And, in thus doing, we step from t......he sure platform of liberty upon the uncertain threshold of tyranny. America is just the country that how all the written guarantees in the world for freedom are no protection against tyranny and oppression of the worst kind. There the politician has come to be looked upon as the very scum of society. Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress. As there is oppression of the majority such oppression will be fought with increasing hatred. Men feared witches and burnt women so those who allows oppression shares the crime I have always striven to raise the voice of hope for a world where hate gives way to respect and oppression Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.


Theresa Vaughn- Miller
female, age 48, married, 3 children
Adrian, MI, USA
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