ACLU Seeks Info on Inmate Death

Wilmington (July 1, 2015)—The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware has filed suit to obtain information about the death of Jason Cunningham, who died on April 18, 2014 while being held in the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna. Natalie Way, the mother and administrator of the estate of Jason Cunningham, is the plaintiff in the suit.

The only facts disclosed to Ms. Way about Mr. Cunningham’s detention and death was that on the day he was taken into DOC custody, Mr. Cunningham was put into in a four point restraint and left unmonitored in a cell. He was found dead in the cell later that day.

Out of respect for me and my family and all of the people that loved Jason so much, prison officials need to tell us how and why Jason died. It shows a profound lack of compassion that we have had to file a law suit to get the answers that we deserved a year ago,” said Natalie Way, Mr. Cunningham’s mother.

His mother and family have attempted unsuccessfully to learn more about how Mr. Cunningham was treated while in DOC custody and the facts leading to his death. ACLU-DE agreed to act as counsel for Mrs. Way because she was unable to obtain the records DOC had regarding her son’s treatment and death without court action.

The death of anyone in state custody is unacceptable,” said Kathleen MacRae, ACLU-DE executive director. “When an unfortunate event like the death of Jason Cunningham occurs, it is important that the family and the public know the facts to ensure that the Department of Corrections is held to constitutional standards.”

CONTACT: Kathleen MacRae, Executive Director—302-654-5326 x102 (office), 505-681-3920 (cell); kmacrae@aclu-de.org

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