Family Sues CCA for Death in Prison Riot

JACKSON, Miss. (CN) – Inmates at an understaffed Corrections Corporation of America prison killed a guard after the prison company failed to warn him that he was on inmates’ “hit list,” the man’s family claims in court.
     CCA, the nation’s largest prison company, called in the late Catlin Hugh Carithers to work on his day off without warning him that he was on the hit list, his parents and brother claim in Federal Court.
     The parents, Hugh and Brenda Carithers, claim the CCA prison in Adams County, Miss., was understaffed and mistreated inmates, sent officers into the riot though it knew they would be “eaten alive” by inmates.
     Catlin Carithers died on May 20, 2012, during a prison riot. Catlin, a senior correction officer, had worked at the jail since 2009, according to his family’s complaint.
     Catlin, 24, died of blunt force trauma to the head after being attacked by inmates, according to USA Today.
     As many as 300 inmates rioted, armed with makeshift weapons such as broomsticks and trash can lids, injuring 16 other officers and three inmates, the newspaper reported.
     The Adams County Correctional Facility, a private prison owned and run by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, houses adult male illegal immigrants for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, most on charges of re-entering the United States after deportation.
     The Carithers family claims CCA understaffed and underequipped the prison, failed to train its officers, and mistreated inmates, putting jail guards at risk.
     “Prior to Catlin’s death, the defendants were informed by correction officers they employed and former correction officers that the facility was short staffed and underequipped, and the inadequate staffing and treatment of the inmates created dangerous working conditions for correction officers working there,” the complaint states.
     “The defendants did not increase the staff at the facility, modify the treatment of the inmates, or resolve the dangerous atmosphere experienced by the correction officers.
     “In May 2012, the inmates at the facility began organizing a plan to submit a number of demands to the facility warden regarding conditions at the facility.
     “On or about May 18, 2012, an inmate informant informed a facility security officer that the inmates were ‘ready to fight’ and around eight correctional officers were on ‘the hit list.’
     “Catlin was included on this ‘hit list.’ The inmate informant warned the facility security officer to take this information seriously.
     “On or about May 19, 2012, the inmate informant again informed the facility security officer that the situation was more serious than first thought. Again, the inmate warned that certain correction officers were on a ‘black list’ and any officer that disrespected an inmate would be punished.
     “On or about May 20, 2012, the facility security officer communicated with the inmate informant and requested the names of the inmate representatives that were organizing the demands. The facility security officer also requested a list of the names of all correction officers on the ‘hit list.’
     “On the afternoon of May 20, 2012, a riot broke out at the facility.
     “Catlin was not working on May 20, 2012, but was called in to work by the facility security officer due to the riot.
     “The facility security officer knew that Catlin was on the ‘hit list’ when he called him into work the riot and knew the inmates intended on injuring, or punishing, the correction officers on the ‘hit list.’
     “The facility security officer did not tell Catlin he was on the ‘hit list’ when he sent him into the facility on the day of the riot.
     “Catlin entered the prison at the direction of the defendants and proceeded to perform his duties as instructed.
     “The inmates killed Catlin on the afternoon of May 20, 2012.
     “The next day, May 21, 2012, after the riot, the facility security officer thanked the inmate informant for helping end the riot. The facility administration also advised the inmate informant that he took the warning serious [sic], but the warden did not.
     “On or about May 25, 2012, the inmate informant corresponded with the facility security officer regarding the riot. The inmate informant stated all the facility administration should have listened to the inmates, but instead of doing so, the facility administration closed the yard and sent the correction officers that were on the ‘hit list’ to stop the riot. The inmate informant further asked why the facility security officer put Catlin on the front line when the facility administration knew he would be ‘eaten alive’ by the inmates.
     “The facility security officer responded by stating, ‘how do you think I feel [sic] that boy worked for me and I was the one who called him in on Sunday.’ He also responded that ‘I am sorry I wasn’t there sooner to stop this awful situation but I was glad to be there to end this without any other blood shed [sic].'”
     The family seeks compensatory and punitive damages for battery, assault, fraudulent concealment and emotional distress, and medical and funeral expenses.
     They are represented by Eric Dillon of Ridgeland, Miss.

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