Attorney: Woman Who Died After Incident in Jail Should Have Been in Hospital

Mills said the incident should have been considered a mental health issue, but was treated as a criminal issue, so she was sent back to jail. (WICS)

A family attorney says the woman who died in a Springfield area hospital after being found unresponsive in the Sangamon County Jail should have been getting mental health treatment.

Before Tiffany Rusher was found unresponsive in the Sangamon County Jail, she was involved in an $80 million settlement with the state of Illinois regarding mental health resources in prisons.

Attorney Alan Mills, who represents the family, said Rusher suffered numerous mental illnesses and attempted suicide several times during her time with the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Mills said Rusher's death is an example of the need for more mental health funding in Illinois. He tells Newschannel 20 Rusher had checked herself into the McFarland Mental Health Center and was getting better.

During her time there, she was charged with aggravated battery.

Mills said the incident should have been considered a mental health issue, but was treated as a criminal issue, so she was sent back to jail.

"When she got back to jail, she got put back onto suicide watch, back into a stripped out room, with nothing there but a smock," Mills said. "Given no mental health treatment, except being on watch. And she stayed that way for about three months, until she succeeded in killing herself."

The Sangamon CountyJail said the preliminary investigation by state police into the incident was for a potential suicide. They could not comment further on the specifics surrounding Rusher, but they did say they take all necessary precautions when an inmate is at risk for suicide.

Mills says the state is in the process of giving more resources to mental health following that $80 million settlement, but the state budget issues are slowing down the process.

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