Family of deceased inmate Jonathan Lancaster, attorney for former employee respond to dismissal of charges for 6 former MDOC employees

The six MDOC employees were charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:42 PM EDT
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MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - All charges were dropped today against six former Michigan Department of Corrections employees. They were facing charges of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Alger County inmate Jonathan Lancaster. Lancaster died of dehydration in an observation cell in 2019 at the Alger Correctional Facility.

Nathan Moser is one of the six employees charged. His attorney Jennifer France said charges were dropped because the former employees weren’t the direct cause of Lancaster’s death.

“Although these nurses and wardens owed him a duty, they weren’t the cause of his death,” France said. “That was the ultimate deciding factor in this case.”

After the hearing this morning, the family of Lancaster sent a statement to TV6, saying they will fight for an appeal. Lancaster’s sister Danielle Dunn stated:

“MDOC staff and the Alger court failed Jonathan not only as they stood by and watched him die but by failing to hold those responsible accountable. This is pass for corrections officers to continue to abuse and neglect. This is not the end for us. We will fight for an appeal and continue to advocate for other families like ours as well as current incarcerated citizens.”

Since Lancaster’s death, policies within MDOC have changed to try to prevent future incidents. Many prison reform groups throughout Michigan were upset with today’s decision.

The Open MI Door Coordinator Lois Pullano said it will take much more than policy to bring change.

“It’s the culture inside,” said Pullano. “There is a lack of training. There has to be training, such as crisis intervention training, mental health first aid training. These are all things that have never been done by the department.”

According to France, MDOC policy now states staff must closely document the food and water consumption of inmates.