Michigan Corrections to Pay $860K to Settle Lawsuit Over Guards Who Made Callous Bet on Inmate’s Suicide

The Michigan Department of Corrections has agreed to pay $860,000 to the family of an inmate who died by suicide while behind bars, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The family of Janika Edmond, 25, filed a lawsuit over the woman’s 2015  death after officers at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility allegedly placed a bet on whether she would hurt herself. Edmond, who has a history of mental illness and suicide attempts, used her bra to hang herself in a shower at the facility on Nov. 2.

Janika Edmond

Janika Edmond, 25, hanged herself inside a prison shower after her request for a suicide prevention vest was ignored. (Photo: Michigan Department of Corrections)

Video evidence cited in the complaint accusing the department of trying to cover up its misconduct showed corrections officer Dianna Callahan pumping her fist and shouting, “Somebody owes me lunch,” after Edmond requested a suicide prevention vest.

“Court documents suggest the guards had wagered a Subway sandwich,” according to the Huffington Post. 

Not only did Edmond’s request go unanswered, but video evidence showed officers didn’t immediately respond when the woman was heard choking in the shower. She would die at a hospital just days later.

As reported by the Free Press, evidence in the case also showed corrections department officials violated department policy after failing to promptly notify Michigan State Police of Edmond’s suicide.

The department moved to settle the lawsuit earlier this month, shelling out $860,000 to cover legal fees incurred by Edmond’s family. Under the terms of the settlement, Edmond’s two half-brothers will receive just under $275,000 each, while $142,000 will go to the Detroit law firms that handled the case.

“No amount of money, obviously, can ever make up for the loss of a loved one,” said David Steingold, an attorney for the family.

Callahan and the prison counselor who made the bet, Kory Moore, were both fired after an investigation into the incident, though Moore was re-hired by the department following arbitration, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Callahan, 49, pleaded no-contest to an involuntary manslaughter charge in October and was handed a six-month jail sentence.

Steingold said it was important the corrections department “pay a price that’s sufficient to let them know this type of conduct not only will not be tolerated, but will be punished.”

The department has declined to comment on the settlement.

*If you or someone you know is struggling, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741-741 for the 24-hour Crisis Text Line.

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