How mentally ill and obviously suicidal does an inmate have to be to get his or her jailers to take notice?
That’s the question being asked in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of an Ohio native who recently hung himself inside the Summit County jail.
The man had an extensive mental health history and was charged with several serious crimes. Incarcerated for five months, the man received no mental health counseling even though the issue of his mental health status had been raised at pretrial consultations and he was scheduled for evaluations.
In addition, the man had a history of suicide attempts that were more than just “show” or cries of attention. He’d also recently stopped taking an antidepressant — against medical advice.
Authorities claim he was fine when he was booked. However, he was far from fine by the time several months had rolled around — yet the jail had dragged its heels about getting him a psych evaluation. He repeatedly admitted to his wife by phone that he was suicidal and going crazy. She alerted jailers — but they did nothing and didn’t put him on suicide watch — apparently thinking that it was unnecessary.
Somehow, the despondent inmate was eventually left unsupervised and alone in his cell. A total of 41 minutes passed — well over the amount of time it took him to rig up a way to hang himself with some sheets and blankets. By law, inmates are supposed to be looked in on every 20 minutes — even if they aren’t suicidal.
The widow is also using the ability of the civil lawsuit and wrongful death claim to do something else — she’s asking the judge in the case to order the defendant — the Summit County jail — to follow an injunction that would require them to observe the rights of the mentally ill and suicidal inmate. Right now, she says, the jail staff has insufficient training or methods to handle the mentally ill.
An attorney can provide more information about your options if your loved one suffered a needless death through the gross negligent of another.
Source: www.ohio.com, “Wife of Green man who hung himself at Summit jail files wrongful death lawsuit; suit also seeks injunction,” Stephanie Warsmith, Oct. 06, 2017