Michael Jefferson, 26, of Chicago, Illinois, was serving time in Menard Maximum Security Correctional Facility for a parole violation on a gun charge.
On July 11, 2017, Jefferson’s mother, Janel Carter, was contacted via a phone call on July 11 saying her son died after he was found unresponsive in his segregated cell unit.
The coroner’s initial report stated that the inmate was found unresponsive in his cell and was taken to Chester Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:20 pm.
Less than 24 hours after Jefferson died, the Illinois Department of Corrections had taken his body to another hospital after the initial one he’d been staying at, did a quick autopsy and then sent the body back to his family. What they saw was their loved one’s nose bloody, his lip bruised, a lump on his forehead and bruises on his back.
Jefferson’s family wants answers.
You be the judge?
Warning: the photos are quite graphic. Viewer discretion advised.
The images of Jefferson’s body were taken by a family friend, who posted them online with Jefferson’s mother, Janel Charles’ permission. It shows an open wound on Jefferson’s throat and back, as well as some swelling.
When asked for their response as to why Jefferson’s body was examined twice, the Illinois Department of Corrections gave this explanation.
“Preliminary information reveals there was no trauma to Mr. Jefferson’s body when he was transported from Menard Correctional Center to Chester Memorial Hospital on July 11th,” a statement they released reads, in part. “It is the Department’s understanding that the wounds seen in the pictures of Mr. Jefferson’s body are consistent with those incurred during an autopsy and the swelling a result of the body’s rapid decomposition.”
His family is not here for the bull and have decided to raise money via GoFundMe page for an independent autopsy. Janel Charles, Jefferson’s mother, says her son was bipolar and was kept in Menard’s segregated unit for mentally ill inmates. She was informed that someone would be checking on her son every half-an-hour.
She is sharing the photos of her son’s body “because I want the world to know what happened to my son and maybe we can stop this from happening to another family,” she wrote on GoFundMe.
“Somebody needs to tell me something. My son was 27 and healthy,” she told WGN News. “There was nothing wrong with my son, other than his bipolar. Whatever went on in there, he did not deserve to die that way. He was a human being. He had people [who] loved him. I loved my son. His brothers loved him. He died like an animal.”
“I didn’t understand how you didn’t see any trauma,” Charles told NBC Chicago. “Is that how they come out of Menard looking when they die?”
Jefferson isn’t the first inmate to die under suspicious circumstances. Four inmates have died in a Menard Correctional Facility solitary confinement cell.
Hopefully, the family will find the answers they are seeking.