Brandon Clay Dotson's family was excited when they learned he was being considered for parole release on Nov. 16, 2023. However, on that day, the 43-year-old was found dead inside his cell at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, Ala.

Now, his family is suing.

Doston's family "suspected foul play" upon discovering his death, so they requested a second autopsy by a private pathologist, Dr. Boris Datnow.

People reports that according to a new lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Alabama’s United States District Court, Datnow discovered that Dotson's "heart was missing" from his "chest cavity," making his cause of death indeterminable.

The suit alleges that Dotson’s incarceration was "tantamount to a death sentence"

The federal lawsuit lists dozens of defendants — including Alabama’s Department of Corrections, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and the University of Alabama at Birmingham and others — who are allegedly "engaging in the illegal, reprehensible and outrageous conduct of retaining organs and tissues from incarcerated individuals who die in state custody without the consent of their family, next of kin, or representatives as required by law."

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"Alabama's prison system is characterized by cruelty," Lauren Faraino, who represents Dotson's family, told People.

"From the moment a person enters the Alabama Department of Corrections, they are thrown into a lawless world of beatings, rapes, drugs and extortion. No other prison in the United States comes close to Alabama's in terms of violence, suicides and overdoses. We are now learning that the horrors do not end at death," the lawyer continued, claiming the state has fallen into a pattern of "abusing the corpses of those who die in prison custody."

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According to People, Charlene Drake, daughter of Charles Edward Singleton — who also died in custody in November 2021 — alleges her father had been treated in the same manner.

"He still had his eyes," Drake claims in the suit, alleging that when her dad's body made it to the morgue "all other organs were gone."

Drake also claims the warden never contacted her to approve the removal of her late father's organs.

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Gallery Credit: Erica Russell

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