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AZ- Another Pinal County jail inmate kills himself

8-21-2008 Arizona:

A 45-year-old man committed suicide inside the Pinal County Adult Detention Center early Wednesday, marking the third time an inmate killed himself in just over a month.

Jail staff found Ricky Mann, who was physically handicapped, dead just after midnight. He strangled himself by tying a sheet to his medical walker, sheriff's officials said.

Suicides at Pinal County jail raise concerns

Mann's death comes the day after a Tribune report that cited concerns from experts about recent suicides at the jail. They questioned the jail's supervision, medical care and management.

The other suicides occurred July 8 and 16.

In a statement, the sheriff's office said it is putting the entire jail staff through a refresher course in suicide prevention.

The training will be conducted next week by Pinal County Correctional Health's mental health staff.

Before Mann's death, Pinal County jail's suicide rate was more than double national averages for county jails, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Since 2005, there have been a total of five suicides and five suicide-related injuries. The sheriff's office is also facing a lawsuit for one of the deaths, which occurred last year.

Chief Deputy Terry Altman runs the Pinal County jail, and the recent deaths aren't the first time he's seen a surge of inmate suicides in a short period.

In 2004, Altman was demoted from his position as top commander for the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in Florida after five inmates committed suicide in three months.

Altman has refused interview requests about the suicides and the jail.

Lawyer David Don has filed suit against the jail in the April 2007 death of inmate George Horner, who was found hanging by a sheet from a vent in his cell.

Don wrote in a court document that jail staff knew Horner was suffering from suicidal thoughts and didn't do anything to prevent his death. Horner's family sought a $600,000 settlement. But that offer was rejected, and the case will now go before a jury.

Mann was never placed on suicide watch, sheriff's spokeswoman Vanessa White said. He was booked into jail March 22 and was awaiting trial on several child sex charges. ..News Source.. by David Biscobing, Tribune

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