Family of a man who starved to death in Arkansas jail after he couldn’t pay $100 bail sue prison

GRAPHIC WARNING: Family of a man who starved to death in Arkansas jail weighing just 90lbs after he couldn’t pay $100 bail sue prison after 51-year-old had his medication taken away and resorted to eating his own feces

  • Larry Eugene Price Jr., 51, died at the Sebastian County Detention Center in August 2021
  • Price, who had a history of serious mental illness – including schizophrenia – had been held in solitary confinement for the year that he was there
  • While there, he reportedly ate his own feces and drank his urine and was not given his medication after he refused to take them
  • Price was arrested in August 2020 after he walked into the Fort Smith Police Department and threatened officers as he pretended to shoot imaginary guns
  • He was charged with a terroristic threatening, which is a felony and he could not afford to pay his $100 bail  
  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

The family of a man who starved to death in an Arkansas jail because he was unable to pay his $100 bail have sued after his medication was taken away and he had to eat his own feces. 

Larry Eugene Price Jr., 51, died at the Sebastian County Detention Center in August 2021, after being held for a little over a year at the facility awaiting trial on a terroristic threatening charge, a felony.

Price, who had a history of serious mental illness – including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – had been held in solitary confinement at the county facility, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit against Sebastian County accused the jail and its medical provider of neglecting Price as he ate and drank less over the course of a year and his weight dropped from 185 pounds to 90 pounds.

Jail staff also discontinued Price’s mental health medications after he refused to take them, the lawsuit said, and didn’t make any effort to follow up with the inmate to address his mental health needs.

Price was arrested in August 2020 after he walked into the Fort Smith Police Department and threatened officers while pointing his finger as if her were pulling an imaginary trigger, the lawsuit said. Price, who also had a developmental disability, was homeless at the time of his arrest and had no real weapon. 

Larry Eugene Price Jr., 51, died at the Sebastian County Detention Center in August 2021. Price, who had a history of serious mental illness – including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – had been held in solitary confinement at the county facility

His bare bones cell had food cartons and a few towels on the floor

His bare bones cell had food cartons and a few towels on the floor 

He was held in solitary confinement while at the detention center

He was held in solitary confinement while at the detention center 

He was found in his cell with his eyes wide open, naked, with dried saliva on his mouth, and in a pool of standing water. He had reportedly taken to eating his own feces and drinking his urine prior to this death, according to Newsweek

Even after his death, the jail continued to mark Price and his cell as ‘okay,’ Newsweek reported.  

‘Larry Price suffered in the tortured throes of his untreated mental disorder for months on end as jail healthcare and security staff watched him waste away-apathetic to his life-threatening medical and mental health needs and to the cruelty of his confinement,’ the lawsuit said.

‘I was appalled – a developmentally disabled, mentally ill man, who couldn’t afford his low bail amount, was held in solitary confinement for a year,’ Attorney Erik Heipt told Newsweek. ‘He was not serving a sentence. He was awaiting trial the whole time — for a crime that he wasn’t mentally capable of committing. 

‘There is no excuse for an atrocity like this.’  

Heipt said Price’s case is perfect example of ‘everything that’s wrong with the cash bail system.’ 

‘It punishes the poor. He was essentially jailed for being in a mental health crisis. He didn’t hurt anyone. If anything, he was the one who needed help. Instead of getting him that help, they took him to jail and locked him in solitary confinement for a year. This was a colossal systemic breakdown,’ the Seattle-based attorney said.  

The lawsuit was filed against Sebastian County and Turn Key Health Clinics LLC, the jail’s medical provider, along with two employees of Turn Key. It also lists several unnamed employees of the county jail and Turn Key as defendants.

Sebastian County Judge Steve Hotz said the sheriff is conducting an internal review of Price’s case.

He went into the jail at 185 pounds and died at just 90 pounds (pictured). He was stuck in the facility for more than a year because he was unable to afford his $100 bail

He went into the jail at 185 pounds and died at just 90 pounds (pictured). He was stuck in the facility for more than a year because he was unable to afford his $100 bail 

He was found in his cell with his eyes wide open, naked, with dried saliva on his mouth, and in a pool of standing water

He was found in his cell with his eyes wide open, naked, with dried saliva on his mouth, and in a pool of standing water

He was in the water so long his feet shriveled up (pictured)

He was in the water so long his feet shriveled up (pictured) 

He also reportedly started to eat his own feces and drink his urine before he died

He also reportedly started to eat his own feces and drink his urine before he died 

‘The county places a high priority on the safety of every person in our jail. We have medical personnel available to treat inmates in need of care,’ Hotz said in an email to AP. ‘The sheriff is conducting an internal review of this situation and hope to know more in the future.’

According to the lawsuit, inspections at the jail over the years identified problems such as overcrowding, understaffing and inadequate space at the county facility.

The Arkansas State Police launched an investigation into the incident and turn over their results to Sebastian County without any charge recommendations, which is typical, according to Newsweek. The prosecuting attorney wrote back to the police that no charges would be pressed. 

Price has diagnosed mental health issues, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

He was also taken off his medication after he refused to take it, but the jail did not follow up to check on his mental illness

He was also taken off his medication after he refused to take it, but the jail did not follow up to check on his mental illness 

His family is suing Sebastian County and Turn Key Health Clinics LLC, the jail's medical provider, along with two employees of Turn Key

His family is suing Sebastian County and Turn Key Health Clinics LLC, the jail’s medical provider, along with two employees of Turn Key

‘I have personally reviewed the entire Arkansas State Police investigative file, which includes interviews with the Detention Center staff, Arkansas State Police reports, and the autopsy report, before making this decision,’ wrote prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue. 

‘It is the opinion of this office that no criminal charges can be filed against any person with regard to this death.’  

Sebastian County has set up mental health court, but it was after Price was arrested and therefore did not apply to him. The court is supposed to look into other options for the mentally ill, such as rehabilitation centers, instead of jail. 

Price was being house at the Sebastian County Detention Center (pictured)

Price was being house at the Sebastian County Detention Center (pictured) 

Price has been arrested a few times before and had several run-ins with police, according to police spokesperson Aric Mitchell. 

‘I don’t even have a count for how many interactions we had with Mr. Price, but it was many,’ he told Newsweek. ‘That day, he was more agitated than normal.’ 

Mitchell said he was stunned to find out the manner of Price’s death, as many police officers believed he had died from COVID-19. 

‘Oh dear God, that’s horrendous,’ he told the outlet. 

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