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