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“In Long’s case and 17 others, state investigators found problems with inmate supervision”. No shit, Sherlock! As I have written, I have seen guards sleep through their shift on suicide watch and awaken to falsify the logs to indicate that they checked each inmate every 20 minutes!
Excerpts from the Article:
In the early morning hours of Aug. 3, detention officers walked by Tony Edward Long’s cell in the Brunswick County jail six times, only looking in once. One of the officers entered the cell and took out a mattress, state records show. All during this time, Long lay on the bed with both feet touching the floor. That was an odd position for a sleeping inmate, and when a nurse walked in at 5:54 a.m., she discovered he wasn’t asleep at all. He had died shortly after midnight from pneumonia.
Long, 36, is one of 38 inmates so far this year who died behind bars or at a hospital after becoming infirm in a county jail. It is two shy of the highest number of jail inmate deaths since the state began tracking them in 1997 — 40 deaths in 2015.
In Long’s case and 17 others, state investigators found problems with inmate supervision. That, too, is nearing the record annual number of 19 supervision failures tied to inmate deaths — set in 2015 — since the state began regularly reviewing jail deaths in 2012.
It’s unclear if North Carolina’s increases in jail deaths are part of a national trend. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has yet to release its annual report, which would cover the 2015 year.
The North Carolina agency that investigates jails has stepped up its probes. In prior years, the state Construction Section within the Department of Health and Human Services looked into roughly two-thirds of inmate deaths. This year, they will have investigated all but two of them. Five deaths are still being investigated. “We are looking into as many as we can possibly look at,” said Steven Lewis, who leads the construction section.
The series prompted more attention to jail deaths, and calls for reform. Lewis said the series helped convince more jails to report inmate deaths in the hospital, which may account for some of the increase this year. At least two death reports from jails note the inmate was no longer in custody and had died in the hospital. But this year’s deaths continue to illustrate problems with supervision. In Long’s case, the Brunswick jail fired two detention officers and suspended another for failing to follow “policies and safeguards in place,” said Emily Flax, a spokeswoman for the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.
The deaths also show jail detention officers continue to deal with two societal problems that make their jobs more difficult. Many of the deaths involve inmates who are mentally ill or addicted to drugs such as opioids.