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Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

Man hospitalized after suicide attempt at Washtenaw County Jail

By Lee Higgins

A male inmate was hospitalized Tuesday night after he attempted suicide at the Washtenaw County Jail, Sheriff Jerry Clayton confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

Sheriff's officials said the 26-year-old man jumped "head first from the second tier" of cells in a medium-security area, resulting in a 13-foot drop.

The man landed on his head and suffered what officials called "significant head trauma," and he had no pulse.

Jail staff administered First Aid and established a pulse, then Huron Valley Ambulance transported him to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. He's had surgery and remains in critical condition.

Clayton said jail officials had no previous indication the man posed a risk to himself and the man had no history of harming himself.

"This investigation is ongoing, but at this early stage all things point to him attempting to commit suicide," spokesman Derrick Jackson said in an email. "No foul play is suspected."

The suicide attempt occurred at about 8:15 p.m. in a housing block during a time that inmates were out of their cells and permitted to move freely, Clayton said.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.



Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Jail is very stressful, and even more so since the Washtenaw Jail stopped in-person visiting. With the jail remodeling, they have switched to video telephone calls. Now prisoners feel even more isolation. The "visitor" sits in front of a tv camera in a booth in the jail lobby. The inmate sits in a different room in the jail in front of a different video camera. These video phone calls are restricted as to time and occurrence much like the former in-person visits were. A visitor must register with the jail and must make a reservation for a time slot on the telephone. A prisoner may have only have one timed, video phone call per week. Prisoners can never see their wives, mothers, children, except on the screen in the booth. They cannot say anything without the probability that it is being recorded. This suicide might have been prevented if the prisoner could have had a face-to-face talk with a trusted loved one. He could have received some comfort from the face-to-face visit, or the visitor might have noticed subtle behaviors indicating that something was not right psychologically. I know one mother who said she wouldn't have known that her son was cutting himself if she had not seen his arms in a face-to-face visit. I know another mother in a different jail, who, after having video visits for over a year, had a face-to-face visit because the video equipment was broken. She said, her son and her just cried, because they finally could really be together.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

Cash you are wrong, the jail is full of snitches who will snitch for no other reason then to feel important. I spent several years working in this jail as a support person and you wouldn't believe what the inmates would tell me for no other reason then to talk. I could write a best seller with the stories I was told.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

How many were true? There are snitches in prisons and there are the informants who report facts. Prison authorities use snitches for a variety of purposes.....but the information they give is of no value. Primarily they are used to trap others into telling something true out of fear. A snitch tells things of no value to seem important but they are not reliable informants. Snitches are nothing more that a gnat in the ear of the prison administrators...have no value other than to play psychology games with other inmates.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

I would like to thank the reader, Squirrel for sharing his insight about the conditions that prevail in the jail. A man always exists in relationship with himself, his community, and his environment. There is disharmony in the interaction of these constituent factors as evidenced by this attempt to commit suicide. In far away Tibet, Buddhist monks are killing themselves by acts of self-immolation. The United States Government has openly expressed its concern and has claimed that the suicidal deaths in Tibet are caused by religious oppression by Chinese authorities. That argument must be applied to the conditions prevailing in our prisons. If Squirrel is telling the truth about this prison condition, the truth has a chilling effect. Computers must not be used for personal entertainment or any personal use at workplace. It is not easy to monitor the inmates, but it is very easy to monitor the use of computers. Guards must not be allowed to use personal mobile phone devices as these gadgets are often used for personal recreation and would not allow the guard to be alert while performing his/her duty.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

squirrel, trust me. Many of us know what you posted is absolute fact.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

I have no reason to lie.people just don't want to hear the truth.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

well i was there. i'm a weekender there meaning i go to jail on my days off of work. the inmate i have seen the last few weeks.didnt bother no one but he did talk to him self alot about nothing.the days before this happen he was giving away his food trays,and he kited himself off of J block to a differnt block that was about 7pm tues within 2 hours he took off his rubber shoes and jumpped from the top railing on 2nd floor. the guard on duty i belive (d block) had his back to the inmates like they do much of the time (facebooking looking up craigslist). i'm in the jail every week i see the bs that goes on in there.currently the officer on j block sits behind the desk shopping on craigslist for most part of his shift and he has 2 stripes on his sleeve. i seen other officers sit on facebook for the shift and texting on his phone. come on the guards dont get paid to do that. they there to watch us (babysit). then on a safty note in the blocks they have bunk beds the top bunk is 5 feet from the floor with no safety railings.i have seen inmates fall out of the 2 1/2 foot wide bunk and hit there heads on the metal shelves. (where i work at anything over 4 foot we have to be in a harness or have railings up) i have been fed french toast with metal shavings in it. told guard on duty his reply was "you must not be hungery then" my list can go on and on


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

squirrel, You got caught. Many didn't. That's my thought on it. However, you are serving your sentence and taking it like a man. Don't let anyone put you down.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 10:56 p.m.

Yea I know but the truth needs to be put out there. I wished someone would listen just because I'm a jailbird doesn't mean I'm a liar.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

Thank you for posting this. You are very brave. I hope there are no repercussions.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 2:41 a.m.

Sorry for him and his family, and for the staff that had to deal with this.

Mr. Ed

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

Who pays for his treatment?

Jimmy McNulty

Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.



Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

The County was responsible for his safety in their jail.


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 11:59 p.m.

The same people paying for his jail stint...the tax payers


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 11:44 p.m.

How very sad for him and for his family. I am praying for his recovery.

Larry Kestenbaum

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

Prison and jail authorities are responsible for the health and safety of all inmates. The risk of suicide in this environment is high, especially among those who have never been incarcerated before, and those who arrive intoxicated or sleep deprived. That being said, it is not possible to watch every inmate every second.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

In the few seconds it takes to jump from a 13ft. height one could not possibly get to an inmate that is a seemingly non suicide risk. I'm sure that they have their hands full with keep an eye on over 400 inmates as it is.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

yes theres is cameras but like on j block theres blind spots.also it doesn't help if there online looking at facebook,ebay,and craigslist. i know this cause i see it every week


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

You say they can't be watched? I know in VanBuren Township PD there are cameras by the front desk and one can see inmate activity. Is this not so at Washtenaw?


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

There had been previous problems at the jail as portrayed in the Ann Arbor Chronicle series in which an inmate diary was published. The operation of the jail was a key reason Sheriff Minzey was voted out of office. The Board of Commissioners should ensure the jail is adequately staffed with mental health, drug abuse counseling, and other professionals so these incidents can be minimized.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.

Roadman, Excellent post. I totally agree.