The state of Florida and a hospital will pay the family of Omar Paisley more than $1 million for the youth’s June 2003 death from a ruptured appendix at Miami’s juvenile lockup, says the Miami Herald. The Department of Juvenile Justice, which operates the state’s troubled 226-bed Miami lockup, will pay Cherry Williams $1.45 million for the death of her teenage son. A separate settlement was reached with Miami Children’s Hospital for an undisclosed amount.
Williams said the court settlement may force people who take care of children in state custody to pay more attention to their medical needs. “This is a wake-up call for anybody taking care of somebody else,” she said. “You have somebody’s life in your hands.” Williams hopes state officials will give life to the slogan they adopted shortly after her son’s death rattled the agency: Treat every child as if he were your own. DJJ Secretary Anthony J. Schembri said, “We will continue to do whatever we need to do to ensure our detention services are operating in a manner that will not allow another tragedy like this to occur.”