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3 Jail Suicides Suggest Troubles at a New Orleans Jail are Far From Over

Monday, July 10th, 2017
English: 1200 Jail, the headquarters of the Ha...

English: 1200 Jail, the headquarters of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Español: El 1200 Jail (“Carcel 1200”), la sede de la Oficina del Sheriff del Condado de Harris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Texas death rate of inmates who die while in custody, including deaths from suicide, is approximately double the national average. But Texas isn’t the only state with problems. Adjustments have recently been made to address major concerns in a New Orleans jail, though results of significant changes have not proven to be promising. The death of 15-year-old Jaquin Thomas on October 17, 2016 has led to further controversy and a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, the state, and others, filed by his family.

Thomas was incarcerated at a new jail that was specifically intended to solve such problems as attempted suicides and alleged excessive force used by guards. Yet, he allegedly hung from the bars of a jail window for more than 90 minutes before being noticed by a guard. The previous jail was notorious for allegedly being dangerous, and there is mounting evidence that things have not noticeably improved.

According to Lance Africk, U.S. District Judge, there has been virtually no progress in implementing changes which have been ordered by the court. At a meeting in June 2017, he says he was optimistic about a new jail director being put in place to help improve things.

Inmates are supposed to be checked on by a guard every 15 minutes, according to the sheriff’s office. It was found during an investigation into Thomas’ death that he was at his desk writing something hours before being discovered. A suicide note was found in the jail cell where Thomas was found hanging.

A guard allegedly walked past Thomas’ cell four times before she finally noticed his body hanging. She was allegedly charged with malfeasance, to which she pled “not guilty.”

It is believed that Thomas moved to the adult facility by September. The next month he committed suicide in the jail.

Inmates were moved into the new jail facility, called the Orleans Justice Center, about a year before Thomas’ suicide. A 63-year-old allegedly hanged himself to death in a jail shower about seven months before Thomas’ death. Other troubling occurrences have also taken place, including a third suicide earlier this year.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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