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Stolen Lives: Alabama man ‘baked to death’ in overheated mental health prison cell

Reporting from the AP: “Thomas Lee Rutledge died of hyperthermia on Dec. 7, 2020, at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer. Rutledge had an internal temperature of 109 degrees when he was found unresponsive in the mental health cell, according to the lawsuit which was filed by the man’s sister and names prison staff, wardens and contractors as defendants.

Rutledge ‘was literally baked to death in his cell by excessive heat generated by the prison’s heating system,’ according to an amended complaint filed Nov. 30. The lawsuit contends that prison staff knew of problems with the heating system in the mental health unit before his death.

‘He was housed on a mental health ward, where inmates were confined to their cells around the clock, including eating and bathing in their cells. His death was the direct result of the deliberate indifference or malice of the prison officials, corrections officers, and maintenance personnel at Donaldson, and of the negligence and/or wantonness of the contractor entities,’ the lawsuit stated.”

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