The family of a man who died of stab wounds in a northern Indiana prison in 2021 filed a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against several high-ranking officials at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.
Black Lawyers for Justice, led by attorneys Malik Z. Shabazz and Fatima Johnson, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on March 20, on behalf of the family of 25-year-old Juwan Jones, alleging prison staff repudiated Jones’ rights by failing to protect him from a violent inmate and for refusing to administer medical aid in a timely fashion.
The family is seeking $20 million in punitive damages.
At the time of his death in 2021, Jones had served seven years of a 30-year prison sentence stemming from his involvement in a 2014 fatal shooting in South Bend.
The complaint names roughly 15 individuals directly or indirectly involved in Jones’ death, including warden Ron Neal, claiming prison supervisory staff played a significant role in his death due to “gross negligence” while subjecting Jones to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Shabazz firmly believes that Juwan Jones would still be alive if he received medical assistance “in a timely manner” following his stabbing by another inmate.
Robin Jones, the mother of Juwan Jones, is listed as the primary plaintiff in the lawsuit. During a news conference in South Bend held last week, Robin Jones begged for justice, saying “nobody should be treated less than human because they are an inmate.”
This is not the first time Neal, the warden of the Indiana State Penitentiary in Michigan City, or the prison’s managerial staff have been named in a civil complaint alleging gross negligence in the wrongful death of an inmate.
In 2017, Joshua Devine succumbed to a fire caused by faulty electronics in his jail cell. In January, another inmate of the same prison, 48-year-old Michael W. Smith, died after a fire erupted in his cell. It is unclear if Neal or his staff faced disciplinary action regarding the events.
Ron Neal and several other supervisors named in the Jones lawsuit have been named in the Devine lawsuit.
Citing pending litigation, the Indiana Department of Correction refused to comment on the Jones case.
Contact Indianapolis Recorder multi-media staff writer Noral Parham at III 317-924-5143 ext. 305 or by email NoralP@IndyRecorder.com