(BrightPress.org) – The FBI is investigating the death of a disabled prisoner in Virginia months after a lawsuit was filed by his family alleging mistreatment by correctional staff according to an email reviewed by the Associated Press.
Charles Givens was incarcerated at Marion Correctional Treatment Center for a 2010 murder and had the emotional maturity level of someone who was 7 years old due to a disability. A lawsuit by his sister, Kym Hobbs, alleges routine abuse which culminated in the final fatal encounter in February 2022.
Hobbs was originally informed that her brother had died of natural causes, but she received a tip that he had been beaten to death. An autopsy found that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the chest, and the specific cause of death was undetermined. Previously, Givens had been hospitalized for hypothermia, which is a red flag for someone being imprisoned.
Givens fell down a flight of stairs as a small child and suffered a traumatic brain injury that permanently disabled him, capping him at the mental level of a 2nd or 3rd grader. He required aid with daily tasks and also had Crohn’s disease, which caused him to defecate on himself making him an easy target for prison employees who had to clean up the mess and likely felt frustrated and annoyed as a consequence.
An NPR report from June details the story and highlights the complicated situation of housing mentally disabled inmates.
Four correctional officers stand accused of participating in the beating that led to his death, a fifth is accused of failing to intervene or stop the others. Their lawyers all failed to return requests for comment. All five have previously denied wrongdoing.
A grand jury last year found Givens’s death “suspicious” and in their report on the situation said that all the witnesses they spoke with said that the conditions at the facility were “unsuitable.” Givens was also not the only prisoner to be hospitalized for hypothermia.
They had found ice in the toilets, and Givens had been hospitalized multiple times for hypothermia. In 2018, he was treated for hot water burns, suggesting officers had hosed him down with scalding hot water.
His sister had cared for him before his incarceration and continues to defend him even after his death.
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