The Rhode Island Supreme Court has swatted down a lawsuit by an inmate serving a life sentence. It ruled that such inmates are prohibited from filing suit because the law sees them as “dead.”
The lawsuit was brought against the Department of Corrections by Dana Gallop, an inmate serving two life sentences plus 45 years, for killing a rival gang member and shooting a bystander outside of a Providence nightclub in 2008. While imprisoned, Gallop was attacked by another inmate who slashed him with a razor blade, leaving a gash that took 60 stitches to close and a scar across his face.
The law states that individuals serving life sentences are “civilly dead” meaning that they are considered dead for all purposes of marriage, property ownership, and all civil rights. These people are seen as dead to the state at the moment of their conviction, even as they are, in actuality, alive and imprisoned.
Gallop’s attorney, Ronald J. Resmini, called the ruling “very disappointing” and dismissed the state’s civil-death statute as “moronic”. Rhode Island is “the only state left with the archaic law,” he elaborated.
The Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini took on this case after being contacted by Gallop and growing outraged by the facts. This unfair ruling is incredibly concerning for those who believe in accountability in the prison system and the rights of those in its care.