Target: New York City Department of Correction
Goal: Demand justice for the undeserved death of a mentally ill homeless veteran, Jerome Murdough
Jerome Murdough was a very caring and loving man. Sadly, like many war veterans, Murdough suffered from mental illness and alcoholism after he returned from the service. Although he would disappear from his family for months on end, his family still say that he was a loving, caring individual. Last month, during an especially cold night, Murdough was arrested for trespassing when he sought warmth in an enclosed stairwell in a Harlem housing project. This arrest landed him in a jail cell in Rikers Island where he was essentially baked to death.
Murdough was undeserving of this horrible death. At Rikers Island Jail, it is procedure for staff members to check on the inmates of the mental-observation unit every 15 minutes as a part of a suicide watch. However, Murdough was locked alone in his cell for nearly four hours in extreme heat. The spokesman for the Department of Correction acknowledged that the temperature inside Murdough’s cell was unusually high. Since Murdough suffered from mental illness, he had been taking anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication. The medication hindered his body’s ability to sweat, which caused his body to retain even more heat. He did not know to open the vents to allow cool air to enter, so as the heat rose in the jail cell it is suspected that he could have succumb to heat stroke or dehydration. His body temperature was 100 degrees when he was found, but it is estimated that it was much higher in the hours before his body was found.
Murdough was only convicted of misdemeanors and minor drug charges in the past. He was a man who did his service and fought for his country, only to die from extreme heat in a 6 by 10 jail cell. Sign this petition and demand justice for his death.
Dear New York City Department of Correction,
It has come to my attention that Jerome Murdough, one of your inmates in the mental-observation unit, recently died due to extreme heat in his jail cell at your prison. As a mentally ill inmate, it should be procedure for staff to check up on him every 15 minutes to make sure that he is doing well.
It was the lack of adequate surveillance and monitoring that contributed to his death. He could still be alive today if there were someone to check up on him every 15 minutes.
Jerome Murdough was a kind and caring man. He did not deserve to die the way he did, and his family deserves to have a truthful explanation of how he exactly died. I urge you to find a way to give his family the explanation they seek and the justice for the death of their beloved family member.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Matt Green via Flickr