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Mother of mentally ill man who died in private Lawton prison files civil rights lawsuit

City of Lawton

The mother of a mentally ill man who died in a Lawton correctional facility is filing a civil rights lawsuit.

Thirty-one year old Justin Barrientos died at the Lawton Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility on Jan. 31 after swallowing a plastic spork and suffering an abdominal perforation. Now, his mother, Linda Gray, is suing the GEO Group, which operates the prison.

The lawsuit alleges the corrections and medical staff were aware of the severity of Barrientos’ condition but did not transfer him to a hospital. Instead, they put him in a suicide watch cell where he later died. The lawsuit also alleges the GEO staff was not equipped to care for people with severe mental illnesses. Barrientos had schizoaffective disorder and PTSD.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges GEO staff falsified records to make it appear Barrientos had been continuously monitored while in the suicide watch cell.

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Hannah France started her work in public radio at KBIA while studying journalism at the University of Missouri. While there, she helped develop and produce a weekly community call-in show, for which she and her colleagues won a Gracie Award. Hannah takes interest in a wide variety of news topics, which serves her well as a reporter and producer for KGOU.
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