Urged on by prisoners who were there when she died, we tracked down Brenda's father to make sure that her family members know to file suit because of the circumstances, though I don't know if he's in time to file a Notice of Claim against the state - there's generally a six-month deadline for grieving families to be on top of (and no one ever tells them that). I referred him to a good attorney who will find out, no doubt.
Brenda's dad isn't on-line and the family never saw the Phoenix New Times story or my blog posts about how she died - or all the letters we received from the other women about what happened - and the State only notified him last week that the death certificate is ready, so I think the courts should grant him an extension to file. He had no way of knowing that her death was wrongful until now. It goes beyond simple negligence.
The family can still file suit in federal court, however, I believe under civil rights law. There's a two-year deadline for prisoners to file Section 1983 CR suits, at least, so survivors of prison violence who have missed filing deadlines for the state should still speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Do NOT wait for or trust the AZ Department of Corrections or the AZ Attorney General's office to give you timely, accurate information about your loved one's death - they're just trying to avoid your lawsuits. Unfortunately, it seems the only way they change is when someone wins in court - and we need to stop them from killing these women now, so please exercise all your rights to fight back.
Our condolences go out to all of Brenda's loved ones. Feel free to contact me (Peggy at 480-580-6807) if there's anything I might be able to do. If nothing else, I can put you in touch with other families who share your struggle - just let me know.
June 23, 2011: CORRECTION:
It's only been five months since Brenda died. That means that - thanks to my friend Matt's work - we're in time to help her family with a claim against the state. Unfortunately, litigation seems to be the only thing that makes them clean up the prisons, and Brenda's family has one hell of a suit...she could end up sparing a lot of other women from the hell she went through. From what I've been told, she'd probably give her blessings to that struggle...
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