Family of man who died of dehydration in Michigan Prison say fight for justice not over

Eight people have been charged in connection with the death of a Michigan prison inmate Jon Lancaster, who died in custody of dehydration.
The state attorney general says what happened to Lancaster at the Alger Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula was a preventable tragedy.In the meantime, his family says they are not done fighting for justice.

Lancaster's sister and daughter were surprised to hear six people including the warden and deputy warden of the prison were charged with involuntary manslaughter, a 15-year felony. Two officers were also charged with felony misconduct in office.

But they say the fight now turns to changing the law in Lansing - before this can happen to someone else.

"Step by step, brick by brick, we are going to take the system apart and reform it," said Danielle Dunn, his sister.

In 2013 Lancaster was arrested and pleaded guilty to armed robbery of a 7-Eleven. He died serving that sentence.

"He was moved to the UP, to Alger, placed in solitary confinement since the week of Christmas, late Christmas week, and left there essentially," Dunn said.

Lancaster was denied mental and medical care, detailed in a successful lawsuit.

"He was placed in an observation cell where he was restrained and essentially left to die over the weekend," she said.

He was left to the point where he died of dehydration.

"They refer to it as a hunger strike, but he believed he was being poisoned. They document that over and over," she said.

His death was on March 11th, 2019 after he was first put in solitary confinement in December 2018.

Jon Lancaster

Jon Lancaster

"Jonathan made his share of his mistakes - he was paying for those mistakes with the sentence he was serving," Dunn said. "He did not deserve to die in the manner that he did."

"It’s still there, you can’t forget about it," said his daughter Breanna Lancaster. "It’s not easy. I don’t have a dad. I will never have a dad."

Related: Former warden, 7 other Michigan prison employees charged in inmate's death

Breanna never got to say goodbye to her father. On Wednesday she went to his gravesite to tell him about the eight people charged in connection with his death.

"I had to bring flowers for the celebration of the charges being pressed," she said.

And to be reminded - there is still a fight to be had.

"Eventually to end solitary confinement," Lancaster said. "It’s inhumane, disgusting. Nothing to be a human being in regardless if they are an inmate or not."

It is one her aunt has been fighting for years, trying to get a law on books to end solitary confinement in Michigan prisons.

"We’d like to see both sides work together on this it’s a humanity issue," Dunn said. "It's not a party issue."

So far the Lancaster family is working with lawmakers to get a bill to the floor for a vote. If you want to help in this effort you can visit

Breanna Lancaster, left, Danielle Dunn. Inset: Jon Lancaster

Breanna Lancaster, left, Danielle Dunn. Inset: Jon Lancaster