The state of Wisconsin agreed Tuesday to pay $18.9 million to a former teenage inmate of the state juvenile prison after severe brain damage from a suicide attempt.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this is the largest civil rights settlement the state has ever reached.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Sydni Briggs of Janesville was 16 when she was held at the Copper Lake school for girls for breaking into a liquor store and stealing alcohol.
On Nov. 19, 2015, Briggs turned on a call light for employees to respond to before hanging herself. Staff revived her by CPR and a defibrillator by staff, the Journal Sentinel said.
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According to the Journal Sentinel, Briggs spent four months in a coma and was then moved to a rehabilitation center. Briggs is now 19 and spends her time in a wheelchair with the cognition of a young child.
Briggs had told staff that she had suicidal thoughts and didn’t view life worth living anymore, according to the Journal Sentinel. But on Nov. 19, she was not on any special monitoring schedule to prevent suicide and had not been checked up on for 42 minutes.
Additionally, Briggs told the MJS that there was “nothing good” about the prison and that it was “all bad.”
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In addition to this settlement, the state unanimously agreed on a deal to close Lincoln Hill School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls. The Assembly needs to approve the measure and will then send it to Gov. Scott Walker.
According to the Journal Sentinel, these facilities are under multiple other lawsuits over a three-year-period for child neglect and prisoner abuse. Officials in Walker’s administration have known of the problems within the prison complex for the last six years.
Following Briggs’ incident, the prison has made numerous upgrades, including hiring more mental health professionals, Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher said in a statement to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Assembly has already approved the plan to close the two facilities, but because of changes and updates, it will be taken up again this Thursday.