For the second time in three months, the family of a Hawaii prisoner murdered at a private prison in Arizona filed a lawsuit against the State of Hawaii and Corrections Corporation of America.
Clifford Medina, 23, was incarcerated at the CCA-operated Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona as part of a program in which the Hawaii Department of Public Safety sends state inmates to private, for-profit prisons on the mainland.
Medina was killed by another inmate on June 8, 2010.
The wrongful death suit was filed Wednesday in Circuit Court on behalf of Clifford’s mother, sister and two of his aunts, both of whom also acted as Clifford’s hanai mothers.
According to the complaint, CCA’s "pattern of greed-driven corner-cutting and short-staffing" contributed to Clifford’s death, due to the company’s deliberate indifference and failure to protect Clifford from harm.
The complaint contends that CCA failed to control gang violence at Saguaro, failed to properly classify prisoners and failed to adequately staff the prison.
The complaint also says the state contributed to Clifford’s death "by abdicating responsibility to inmates in its charge" by turning them over to CCA, and then failing to adequately monitor conditions at Saguaro. Click here for a copy of the complaint.
On February 15 of this year, the family of Bronson Nunuha, another Hawaii prisoner who was brutally murdered at the Saguaro facility four months before Clifford was killed, filed a lawsuit against the State of Hawaii, CCA and state and CCA officials, alleging similar deficiencies at the privately-run prison.
Nunuha’s family is represented by the same legal team that filed today’s complaint over Medina’s wrongful death. The state has asked the court to transfer that case to Arizona.
Medina, serving a 5-year sentence following a probation violation, had an extensive history of participation in special education programs designed to help him with his developmental disabilities. He had been diagnosed with moderate mental retardation during his childhood. He was particularly vulnerable to manipulation and violence by other inmates, and the lawsuit alleges state officials had knowledge of his developmental disabilities and mental health condition.