DEAN HIGGINS, Plaintiff, v. MARK S. INCH, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections; MARK JONES; OFFICER T. JOHNSON; OFFICER S. WICKER; JASON SCHUENEMAN; and OFFICER LANDERS;
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and Disability Independence Group (DIG) filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) after an epileptic prisoner was beaten and put in isolation for seven months for an incident that occurred while he was experiencing a seizure.
Dean W. Higgins, 28, of Collier County, was admitted to DeSoto Correctional Institute in June 2017. On Sept. 27, 2018, while experiencing a seizure, it is alleged that he bit a prison guard. Despite documented evidence of Higgins’s history of epilepsy, prison officials treated the incident as a deliberate attack.
Higgins was battered by prison guards and then placed in isolation for the last seven months of his incarceration, first at the DeSoto CI, then at Florida State Prison in Raiford. While isolation is widely recognized as ineffective and inhumane, for a person living with autism, this type of isolation and abuse will have long lasting effects on his ability to perform daily tasks.
Accused in the lawsuit are Florida Secretary of Corrections Mark Inch, DeSoto CI Warden Mark Jones and four prison guards. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.