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Inmate's relatives file suit after death

When Florida inmates are taken into state custody, they should be able to assume that they will enjoy some measure of personal safety. Even though the transition to prison may be socially difficult, all inmates deserve to feel physically secure throughout their incarceration. A startling case out of the Florida Department of Corrections shows that inmates are not always kept safe. During prison transports, some victims may be injured in motor vehicle collisions and rollovers. In an unusual twist, one man's family is suing the DOC after their relative was murdered by another prisoner during a routine prison transport.

The man, who was himself incarcerated for committing murder, was stabbed 15-20 times during the transport between Jefferson and Gadsden counties. The victim was stabbed in the eye, face and neck. Authorities report that the last inmate to get off the bus was covered in the victim's blood; he is facing criminal sanctions in connection with the incident.

Reports from the bus differ, with some inmates saying they spent the entire trip sleeping. Others claim that many inmates were screaming during the chaotic encounter. Still, the officers who were in charge of the 24-person transport claim that they did not hear any indication of wrongdoing until the bus finished its two-hour, 16-minute trip. The officers said they conducted periodic checks of the passenger compartment, which are confirmed by log entries.

Attorneys for the victim's family say it is nearly impossible for the officers to have missed such a violent episode, especially since the attack happened just minutes into the trip. The weapon used to kill the victim was found alongside a Gadsden County road near the prison facilities. In addition, the attorneys say that such a weapon, a nearly foot-long shank, should never have been allowed on the bus.

Victims whose relatives have been killed in prison altercations deserve answers about why their relative died while in state care. Civil damages could also be obtained to financially compensate those relatives for wrongful death, funeral and burial expenses, among other claims.

Source: www.wctv.tv, "Family of inmate suing DOC for prison bus murder" Julie Montanaro, Oct. 10, 2013

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