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Posted on Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

Inmate commits suicide at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township

By Heather Lockwood

An inmate at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township committed suicide Wednesday, John Cordell, a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman said.

The woman was identified by the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner's Office as Barbara Gawronski, 47.

She was discovered alone in her cell by a corrections officer about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Cordell said. She had hung herself, he said. “We started CPR immediately,” he said.

Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics were called, but they could not revive her, Cordell said. She was pronounced dead at 8:05 p.m.

Gawronski was sentenced in December 2010 to a maximum of four years in prison for committing larceny in a building, according to the Michigan Offender Tracking Information System.

Her death was the first suicide at the facility this year, Cordell said.

"From our perspective, any suicides — I mean, one suicide throughout our department in one year is too many," Cordell said.

There were at least two suicides at the prison in 2010. On Dec. 27, Brandy Powell, 34, who was serving a 30-to-50-year sentence for murder, was found dead in her cell after apparently committing suicide. And on Oct. 8, 25-year-old Amber Marie McIntyre-Roden was found hanging in her cell, The Detroit News reported.

Cordell said the suicide rate in Michigan’s prison population is lower than that of the general population. He also said prison officials are trained to recognize signs that someone may be at risk for attempting suicide and trained in suicide prevention. He said prison officials also conduct rounds every half hour to ensure prisoner safety.

But suicide in prison cannot always be prevented, he said.

"Prisoners are in a situation where they're separated from their families and their support systems," he said. “If they are bent on doing this, they’re going to find a time and place to carry it out.”

He added, “It’s sad for us — her cell mate, other prisoners she knows, her family. Our thoughts go out to her family.”

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for Reach her at or follow her on Twitter.



Thu, Jun 23, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

I was at Huron Valley from December 2009 until February 2011 and the public has no idea what goes on in that place. Way more then 3 suicides. The first one that happened when I was there was the Saturday May 8th the day before mother's day. From their on out it was like an epidemic in there. Every other month someone was committing suicide. Their was 6 successful suicides from May until I left. Then you have the attempts that the public would be disgusted if they knew the amount. The Valley as we call, packs women in like dogs and does nothing to help them better themselves. If you are not strong and educated you will become a victim of MDOC. It is the saddest thing and place I have ever seen. I was blessed for my family and friends and their support as well as my own strength. The prison does not help or counsel anyone. They show up for work and do what they need to do to get by for the day. Most of the staff is corrupt and the only difference between them and the women there is they didn't get caught. At least not yet. Anything you can get on the streets you can get in prison thanks to the staff. I wish the public would not be so judgmental. You never know when you or a close family memeber or your own child could make a mistake that could put them in that place. It doesn't take much in the financially distrot state. Just know that the state government only lets you know what they want you to know. Take it from someone who lived the hell!!!!


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

Prison system has been turned into a business have you noticed how many people have been sent to prison over minor charges ? The only reason I see is because they are running out of hardcore criminals and that means less tax payers money in there pockets, it takes a lot of money to pay them union workers making top dollars and having the best medical yea all while dogs get fed better then the prisoners and health care does not exist. I can see locking up hardcore but a lot of them dont belong there at all. Look at Barbra's record it really doesn't add up to much a larceny in a building wow such a crime she was like real bonnie and clyde I dont think so. But know she is gone and her children will miss her all for what to line the pockets of the elite...


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

It is supprising to me that a woman under 5 feet tall can hang herself from a door that she can't even reach??? I also don't understand why these woman don't have some sort of councelin g? Or do they being a woman myself I know that I am way more of an emotional person and would NEED xtra support being away from everyday life.....may god bless the families of the ones who are dearly missed!


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

O it was the girl Oct. 8th I was there for and there not reporting all the attempts and theres more than just 2 suicides a year.


Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 3:46 a.m.

This is a true tragedy, 47 years old, sentenced for a maximum of 4 yrs. (for larceny of a building). Are these women allowed visitors? (at least family) Therapy? It makes me sad because there is LIFE after 50-51 years of age. My thoughts and prayers go to all family, staff and friends.


Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

Sorry to hear about the sudden death at Huron Valley Correctional Facility. So that totals 3 suicides within the last 5 months at the same facility. My prayers go out to all the family, friends and prison staff who have been affected by these tragedies.