Virginia Prison Guard Sentenced after Inmate Death

( – A former high-ranking prison security guard will soon find himself on the other side of a prison cell after a judge sentenced him to three years in jail over the death of an inmate.

Michael Anderson, 52 years old, pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of civil rights over the death of an inmate at a medium-security prison in Petersburg, Virginia. Anderson was serving as a lieutenant there at the time.

The inmate, who was 47 and was only identified as W.W., reportedly started to display a sudden onset of symptoms that included the inability to stand as well as incoherence. A lower ranking correctional officer observed the symptoms and asked Anderson – who was the second-highest officer there at the time – for help. According to court documents, W.W.’s cellmate was the first to call for help after he observed that W.W. “was not doing well and was not himself.” After responding to the call, Anderson reportedly promised W.W. that he would get medical attention.

Prosecutors allege that Anderson actually ignored the inmate’s plight and continued to do so after receiving another report from a prison guard that W.W. had fallen in his cell again a day later. Bureau of Corrections policy mandated that Anderson, being a higher-ranking officer, inform medical staff about W.W.’s situation, but he failed to do so. W.W. was found shortly after on the floor of his cell, dead. The medical examiner who looked at the body post mortem said that W.W. would have survived if he had received medical care.

When he was charged, prosecutors sought anywhere from five to six years in prison, pointing out Anderson’s “appalling indifference” to W.W.’s plight and his inability to “provide a humane environment for inmates.” Anderson’s defense countered that their client had a spotless record beforehand, and had “taken accountability and responsibility” for his mistake.

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