Bexar County inmate found dead in 4th suicide in a month

Prison jail cell
FILE - Jail cell (KXAN Photo)

SAN ANTONIO,Texas (AP) — An inmate died Friday at the Bexar County jail in what appears to be the fourth suicide at the facility in the last month, officials said.

The unidentified 41-year-old man was found alone in his cell, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. He had been held since 2013 on a variety of charges that include aggravated assault of a public servant.

Another inmate killed himself last week, a third the week before and a fourth inmate in the week before that. The three earlier deaths occurred when the inmates used bed sheets to hang themselves, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said at a news conference Friday that steps have been taken to prevent further suicides, such as increasing the number of checks on inmates and adding more supervisors to shifts to ensure inmates are properly monitored.

Detention officers “care deeply about the job that they do” and the deaths take a toll on them, she said.

“It’s a tough job and it’s difficult every single day,” Pamerleau said. “So they feel it when something like this happens.”

The inmate found Friday was being held in a part of the jail designated for high-risk violent offenders. Two of the inmates who died earlier were facing capital murder charges while the fourth was incarcerated on a count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. None of the three who died earlier was under a mental health watch that would require them to be monitored more closely, according to the newspaper.

The jail houses about 3,800 inmates, Pamerleau said, adding that hundreds are monitored due to some level of concern a suicide may be attempted.

University Health System is contracted to provide medical and mental health services to county inmates.

“We are obviously concerned about the recent suicides and are evaluating our current practices to determine if any changes should be implemented,” system officials said in a statement. University Health spokesman Don Finley referred questions to the sheriff’s office.

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards recently conducted a tour of the jail and an inspector reviewed video footage and collected records as part of an investigation into the deaths.

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