Earlier this week, The Philadelphia Inquirer published a front-page story about the all-time high number of suicides in Pennsylvania prisons.
The story discussed the tragic death of Christopher Gilchrist, whose mother is represented by Eisenberg Rothweiler in a lawsuit she recently filed against a number of prison officials and corrections officers regarding his February 2018 death while at SCI-Graterford, a Pennsylvania state correctional institution located in Montgomery County, Pa.
According to that lawsuit, Christopher, who had been diagnosed with depression and had a long history of suicide attempts, was in a special psychiatric observation cell when he died. Christopher took his own life about an hour after corrections officers allegedly saw that he had created a makeshift noose in his cell but did not remove it.
On the same day that he died, a psychiatrist at the jail where he was housed allegedly recommended that he be returned to the general population—despite noting that he had suicidal thoughts.
In his mother’s lawsuit against the prison’s officials and corrections officers, she alleges that the defendants violated Christopher’s Eighth Amendment constitutional rights by being deliberately and recklessly indifferent to his medical needs. She also alleges that the defendants were negligent because they, among other things, failed to timely and accurately recognize, diagnose, and treat Christopher’s mental illness.
In the article, our Nancy Winkler said that the reprehensible level of care began weeks before Christopher’s death, “when he was allowed to harm himself repeatedly, and continued to the end with insufficient efforts to revive him.”
Our Todd Schoenhaus added that Christopher “was failed by so many people on so many levels. It’s not just one doctor committing malpractice and dropping the ball. It was a systemic failure that went on for days, weeks, months, that led to this ultimate tragedy.”