Kudos to Bill Nemitz for his spot-on column about Andy Leighton’s death in prison (Oct. 21), as well as the journey his sister, Kate Keene, and father, Tom Leighton, are now on as they seek the truth as to what happened.

Nemitz reported that when Tom Leighton was informed by a corrections officer, “Your son died this morning,” Tom asked what had happened, and the officer responded “Well, we don’t know. It was a medical issue.” An interesting response, given the facts presented in the column.

While there clearly were “medical issues,” from my experience in the mental health field as a staff member – and, later, a board member – of a psychiatric farm community in Massachusetts, I believe they do indeed know what happened. I think it’s pretty clear that Andy Leighton died from an unforgivable case of neglect at the hands of staff whose behavior repeatedly showed that they could not have cared less.

Time after time, Andy’s fellow inmates tried hard to get him the help he needed, Nemitz reported; their requests and Andy’s were consistently ignored. He was turned away and tragically died. Total disregard for this human being, for this man. Who are the real criminals here?

I hope that further investigations will reveal the cultural and systemic issues that need to be altered and that we as a society begin to hold prison systems accountable for making these changes.

Suanne Williams-Lindgren