Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center

BREAKING NEWS: St. Clair County Sued Again Over Another Jail Suicide

Approximately five hours after telling his jailers that he intended to kill himself and being told “whatever, do what you want to do,” Bradley C. Scarpi was found hanging by a bedsheet in the St. Clair County Jail, according to a lawsuit filed May 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Scarpi, 33, of Belleville, died at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville on May 23, 2014, less than hour after he was discovered hanging from his cell bars in a jail that - despite several recent suicide attempts and studies showing suicide as the leading cause of deaths in jail – does not have formal policies regarding suicide prevention and does not adequately train its staff in suicide prevention, according to the lawsuit.

This is the second recent federal lawsuit brought against the St. Clair County in relation to a jail suicide. The MacArthur Justice Center also represents the estate of Joshua Jurcich, who hung himself in a jail cell two months before Scarpi committed suicide.

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The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center is a public interest law firm founded in 1985 by the family of J. Roderick MacArthur to advocate for human rights and social justice through litigation. The MacArthur Justice Center became part of Northwestern University School of Law's Bluhm Legal Clinic in 2006. As one of the premier civil rights organizations in the United States, the MacArthur Justice Center has led battles against myriad civil rights injustices, including police misconduct (leading the charge to appoint a special prosecutor in the Jon Burge torture cases in Chicago), executions (helping to abolish the Illinois death penalty), fighting for the rights of the indigent in the criminal justice system, and winning multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for the wrongfully convicted.

The MacArthur Justice Center has been at the forefront of challenges to the detention of terrorism suspects without trial or access to the courts. MacArthur Justice Center lawyers have appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court to argue for the rights of detainees.

"We are outraged when the rule of law is abandoned in favor of expediency," says Center Executive Director Locke Bowman. "And so we fight for the rights of folks whose voices don't get heard in the criminal justice system. We're concerned about people on death row, about people accused of crimes but who cannot afford lawyers, about folks who are innocent and must be compensated for the time they wrongly spent in prison."

Students are involved in nearly every case the MacArthur Justice Center takes. They serve on litigation teams, conduct and apply legal research, and plan next steps to advance litigation. Some cases, such as wrongful conviction compensation cases, are complex; involving lengthy pre-trial process, motion practice, written discovery, depositions, and, sometimes, a trial. Students gain first-hand experience in court, and in certain instances, get opportunities to make presentations to a Federal judge.

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