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OH- Inmate death not yet ruled on

3-5-2009 Ohio:

MOUNT VERNON — The death of Nicholas B. Parent at the Knox County Jail has not been ruled on, according to Dr. Jennifer Ogle, Knox County coroner.

“It has not been ruled on yet,” she said. “I did utilize the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. They came in with me. There are several things we are still waiting on. It does appear to be an apparent suicide.”

Ogle said it was still difficult to make a definitive statement because she is still waiting on test results.

“The autopsy is one, and toxicology is another,” she said. “There are several other things I’m not at liberty to talk about right now.”

Parent was found hanging from a makeshift noose made from a bed sheet. Ogle said this method typically takes several minutes to cause death.

“It’s quicker than you’d think,” she said. “You have to fall from quite a height to break your neck. That’s very quick. Typically, with a hanging like this, it’s a vascular death rather than an asphyxiation. And it’s much quicker than you’d think, a matter of minutes.”

Parent was in a cell by himself when he died, but was not segregated from the general population because he was on a suicide watch, nor was it because he was a Tier III sex offender.

“[Parent] was uncooperative when he was brought in,” Barber said. “The reason he was in segregation was because he had not yet gone through a physical. A physical exam is part of the booking process. Until we can determine things like tuberculosis and hepatitis, we don’t put them into the general population.”

Barber said the area where Parent was kept — known as E Dorm — is the only dorm in the jail with individual cells. The others resemble army barracks, with either 12 or 24 beds in a common area with bath and toilet facilities.

Barber said there is one designated officer per shift who acts as the housing officer.

“The Knox County Jail is not a direct supervision facility,” Barber explained. “We have the housing officer interact with the inmates in each dorm. The way the jail is managed is that there is not any video surveillance in any of the inmate housing areas. There is a central control area; it is all glassed in and the central control officers can see into all the housing areas, which are all glass. There are direct sightlines into all the general housing.”

Barber said that the time Parent died is typically a very busy time, with inmates being processed in and out of the jail. The housing officer will make an inmate count approximately once an hour.

According to Barber, it is the nature of the setup of E Dorm and the reason Parent was in there that prevented jail staff from seeing Parent hang himself.

“The door to his cell was closed,” Barber said. “Each cell in E dorm has a door and Parent’s was closed because of his being uncooperative. Central Control cannot see into the cells in E dorm when the doors are closed. There is a small window in the door to each cell, but Central Control cannot see the inmate through it unless he is standing right up against the door.” ..Source.. by George Breithaupt

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