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State to appeal $295,000 award to inmate over wet mattress

The state says it will appeal a federal jury's $295,000 damage award to a prisoner who said he was forced to sleep on a wet mattress.

State Justice Spokesman Bill Cosh says the case is far from over and he says the Corrections' Department will be vindicated.

The federal jury in Madison ruled last week in favor of Reggie Townsend, 29, of Milwaukee.

He was put in solitary confinement for being involved in a prison riot at New Lisbon in 2004, in which a dozen guards were hurt.

Townsend said he spent 59 days with a bunkmate in a 6-by-12-foot cell. His mattress could only fit on a floor near the shower and it got wet, smelly and moldy, and no one replaced it despite his complaints.

The jury said prison sergeant Jerry Allen willfully disregarded Townsend's rights.

His lawyer, David Harth, said he thought the jury was rightfully upset at how the prisoners at New Lisbon were treated.