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Indiana Family Settles For $7.25 Million Over Jail Death

The family of a man who died after he was locked in solitary confinement for 20 days, suffered a mental health crisis and lost 22% of his body weight has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit against Jackson County, Indiana, for $7.25 million, the Washington Post reports. The man, Josh McLemore, died at a hospital in Cincinnati in August 2021 after he was pulled from his jail cell in Brownstown, Indiana.


The doctor who performed McLemore’s autopsy would list his cause of death as “multiple organ failure due to refusal to eat or drink with altered mental status due to untreated schizophrenia.” McLemore’s relatives had accused county officials of causing his “avoidable death,” alleging that, for weeks, no one came to McLemore’s aid after locking him in a cell and watching him starve to death as his mental health crisis deteriorated further, while he was kept in his cell, naked and covered in his own feces and urine.


Jail staff, including Sheriff Meyer, knew about McLemore’s condition, but he was never seen by a doctor or a mental health professional, the suit states. He was given no access to medication to treat what was clearly a mental health crisis. Because of his deteriorating mental health, McLemore ate and drank little, causing him to lose nearly 45 pounds during his incarceration. The death was the second that summer at the Jackson County Jail. Jackson County Council President Brian Thompson told WAVE that after McLemore’s death, the sheriff’s office made changes to the way it processes inmates suspected of going through mental health crises, adding a mental-health nurse to the jail staff.

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