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Widow of sex offender killed in Maine State Prison awarded $100,000

5-8-2014 Maine:

As part of the settlement, Janet Weinstein, whose husband, Sheldon Weinstein, was beaten to death in 2009, agreed to drop a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections.

The widow of a convicted sex offender who was killed inside the Maine State Prison five years ago was paid $100,000 by the state to settle a wrongful death claim.

Janet Weinstein, whose husband, Sheldon Weinstein, was beaten to death by other inmates in April 2009, had filed a notice of intent to sue shortly after his death. In it, she claimed that “policymakers within the Maine Department of Corrections were deliberately indifferent to a culture of inmate violence in which jailhouse justice was meted out to inmates like Mr. Weinstein,” and initially asked for at least $1 million in damages.

The settlement agreement, however, now releases the state and its medical provider, Corizon Inc., from any liability in Weinstein’s death.

The agreement also includes a requirement that neither the state, nor Janet Weinstein, discuss the terms of the settlement.

Weinstein, who was 64, severely diabetic and nursing a broken leg, was beaten by other inmates on April 20, 2009. He died four days later from a combination of hemoperitoneum, or blood in the abdominal cavity, delayed rupture of his spleen and blunt force trauma, according to the state medical examiner’s report.

State officials began investigating Weinstein’s death immediately but it took more than two years before anyone was charged. John Thibeault, 34, who was serving time on the same block as Weinstein in the Maine State Prison in Warren, was initially charged with manslaughter in Weinstein’s death, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated assault in January this year. The state offered Thibeault a plea deal in large part because proving Thibeault caused Weinstein’s death would have been difficult.

Thibeault, who was in the prison serving a term for robbery, was sentenced to eight years in prison for Weinstein’s death, but will only serve nine months. The rest of the sentence was suspended.

Janet Weinstein attended Thibeault’s sentencing and called his penalty a slap on the wrist. She said she was frustrated that she has never been able to find out exactly what happened to her husband in his final days.

State investigators have said from the beginning that they believe several inmates had a hand in Weinstein’s death but they also said witnesses – other prisoners – offered conflicting stories. No one else has been charged. One prison official, Joshua Bailey, was fired in connection with an internal investigation into Weinstein’s death. Another official, William Robinson, was demoted.

Weinstein was in the middle of a two-year sentence for sexually assaulting a child. He had been at the Maine Correctional Facility in Windham but was transferred to the state prison about a week before his death because he broke his leg and needed additional medical care.

Scott Fish, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said the $100,000 settlement comes from the state’s risk management fund. ..Source.. by Eric Russell

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