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Alabama Inmates’ Bodies Returned Without Organs, Lawsuit Claims

The bodies of two men who died while incarcerated in Alabama’s prison system were missing their hearts or other organs when returned to their families, a federal lawsuit alleges. The family of Brandon Clay Dotson, who died in a state prison in November, sued the Alabama Department of Corrections and others, saying his body was decomposing and his heart was missing when his remains were returned to his family, the Associated Press reports. In a court filing last week, the daughter of Charles Edward Singleton, another deceased inmate, said her father’s body was missing all of his internal organs when it was returned in 2021. Lauren Faraino, an attorney for Dotson’s family, said the experience of multiple families shows this is “absolutely part of a pattern.”


Dotson, 43, was found dead on Nov. 16 at Ventress Correctional Facility. His family, suspecting foul play was involved in his death, hired a pathologist to do a second autopsy and discovered his heart was missing. His family sued seeking to find out why his heart was removed and to have it returned to them. “Defendants’ outrageous and inexcusable mishandling of the deceased’s body amounts to a reprehensible violation of human dignity and common decency,” the lawsuit states, adding that “their appalling misconduct is nothing short of grave robbery and mutilation.” Dotson’s family, while seeking information about what happened to his heart, discovered that other families had similar experiences, Faraino said.

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