The Newsroom    Published Monday, Nov. 20, 2006, 10:11 AM
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Inmate’s death: ‘Terribly wrong’ or ‘very unusual’? State settles with family, yet says teen who wasted away in '03 wasn't ignored

Dallas Morning News, Nov. 18, 2006

Charles Billops Jr. was not perfect. He'd been on probation for car theft as a juvenile. Then he went to prison at age 17 for stealing a PlayStation and some DVDs from a house. But the Cedar Hill teen was supposed to be released after two years in Texas' Youthful Offender Program – an older and hopefully wiser, young man. Instead, he died after three months, a thin and incoherent teenager, suffering from an undiagnosed brain abscess due to a sinus infection. A little over a week ago the state of Texas, without admitting wrongdoing, paid the Billops family $250,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging "deliberate indifference" by University of Texas Medical Branch personnel – the prison health care provider. Complaints about health from inmates are common; prisoners have plenty of time to think about their aches and pains, and a trip to the medical department can break the monotony of prison life or allow access to air conditioning on a hot day.

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