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Jailed Schizophrenic Awarded $5.4M

March 11, 1999

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ A mentally ill man placed in solitary confinement by his jailers for more than two months on a charge that was later dropped has been awarded $5.4 million by a jury.

The U.S. District Court jury decided Wednesday that Monroe County Sheriff Dale Trowbridge and jail administrator Lee Robarge violated Scott Lawson’s constitutional rights by keeping him in the cell and ignoring his schizophrenia.

``In reality, Lawson was locked down for almost 24 hours a day, in a cell that was usually dark, and we believe he was treated in a way that would drive a person more deeply into his mental illness,″ said his lawyer, Michael Fox.

Lawson, of Oshkosh, was originally put in jail on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon while looking for work.

Unable to post bond and off his medication, Lawson was withdrawn and unresponsive while in jail, records show. Other inmates complained about him to jailers, who put him in solitary for up to 30 days at a time, Fox said.

The charge was later dismissed when Lawson’s lawyer said police had lied in a report and ignored evidence of Lawson’s mental illness.

The sheriff’s office declined to comment on the verdict.

Monroe County is about 90 miles northwest of Madison.

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