Nash County inmate’s lawsuit says jail conditions violate his constitutional rights

Local News

NASHVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – An inmate has filed a lawsuit saying his constitutional rights are being violated due to the conditions at the Nash County jail.

The lawsuit filed Aug. 16 names the inmate as Jamey Lamont Wilkins.

Wilkins is demanding a jury trial after saying the conditions at the facility violate his fourth, eighth and 14th amendment rights.

Wilkins describes the conditions at the jail as “beyond deplorable.”

He says his due process rights were violated when he was placed in segregation without the ability to defend himself.

“Nash County has no disciplinary process period so at the whim of any staff we can get punished without any way of refuting accusations against us,” Wilkins wrote.

Wilkins then describes in detail the state of isolation cells.

Bodily fluids and waste are “caked up on the walls, bars and even the ceiling,” Wilkins wrote.

He says those fluids and waste will flake off into his hair, food and onto his bed.

Wilkins says buttons which dispense water are often broken leaving the toilet as the only option for water.

He says he needs to take medication so he is forced to resort to using toilet water.

“(Sheriff) Keith Stone, Major Strickland, Capt. Jenkins and Lt. Parker are aware of this,” Wilkins wrote.

Wilkins said Strickland told him jail staff, including Sheriff Keith Stone, have requested funds to fix water issues at the jail but the city will not provide it.

The lawsuit says the jail staff knows of these issues yet still “deliberately subjected” Wilkins and other inmates to them.  

Wilkins then writes about two fires set by inmates within the jail in July.

Wilkins said he was “literally left to die” in a smoke-filled cell after the fires were extinguished.

“I placed a wet towel over my mouth from the toilet to breathe through,” Wilkins wrote.

He says he passed out from smoke inhalation and hit his head on the toilet.

Wilkins wrote that the towel placed over this mouth was stained with soot where he was breathing in – “clear evidence of what I would have inhaled.”

He says he did not see a nurse following the fire and jail staff said inmates had no right to complain about the fires since they set them.

Wilkins says what he endured during and after the fires was cruel and unusual punishment as “the possibility of death is very real.”

He wrote that jail staff opened an outside door so they could step outside to breathe “while we stay in cell choking.”

Wilkins claims jail staff intentionally pits “known enemies against each other” which creates volatile situations.

“Gang violence has increased in the streets because of the internal situations,” Wilkins wrote.

He says an inmate with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus was in the facility and inmates were not allowed to clean cells. MRSA is highly contagious. The infection is difficult to treat.

Wilkins says he requested time at “law library,” which he described as being “terribly inadequate.”

He says there were only three books there. This hinders legal work to be done, he wrote.

“All defendants are aware of this yet have done nothing to rectify the problem.”

Wilkins claims grievances filed by inmates have “disappeared.”

In the lawsuit, Wilkins is asking the court for nominal damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, cells to be fixed and cleaned and more law books at the jail.

The lawsuit names Stone, Strickland, Capt. Jenkins, and Lt. Parker as defendants.

CBS 17 reached out to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office about the lawsuit.

The sheriff’s office released the following statement:

We have received and reviewed the lawsuit and will pass it along to the county manager however many of the claims made by Wilkins are unfounded.

Stone has repeatedly called for funds to repair the jail. The sheriff said the facility’s conditions aided the escape of several inmates earlier in the year.

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