Family of mentally ill prisoner who died gets $1.2M

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina is paying $1.2 million to the family of an inmate with mental retardation who died after being kept 11 days in solitary confinement.

A judge cited Jerome Laudman’s case when he ruled last year that the state doesn’t do enough to help inmates with mental illness.

The $1.2 million is the most Laudman’s estate could get from South Carolina under state law, attorney Scott Evans said.

The state is also paying Laudman’s attorneys $199,000, according to documents from the state Insurance Reserve Fund obtained by The Greenville News.

Laudman was serving a 10-year sentence for robbery when he was put in isolation in 2008. He appeared sick and stopped eating, but guards didn’t report it for 11 days before he died from a heart attack and hypothermia. His body temperature was under 81 degrees.

Laudman’s case was one of several highlighted by Circuit Judge Michael Baxley when he ruled the state violated inmates’ constitutional rights because they did not get proper mental health treatment and trained guards to rely too much on tactics such as isolation and pepper spray to subdue unruly, mentally ill prisoners.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections is appealing the ruling, but is also continuing to take steps to improve its treatment of those inmates, Director Bryan Stirling said.

“Corrections continues to make significant changes and improvements for the safety and security of officers and staff, inmates and the community,” Stirling said.



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