Death Count Is High At Pr. George's Jail; Records Reveal Homicides, Suicides.
Post, 16 Aug 2008 (Cenziper & Castenada).
Sixteen inmates have died while in custody at the troubled Prince George's County Correctional Center in recent years, nearly half from homicides and suicides, putting the jail's mortality rate above those in many big cities, state and federal records show.
An inmate charged with stealing $60 in groceries from a Giant store died last year after he was struck in the head during an argument over a doughnut. Another, on suicide watch, refused food and water and died from severe dehydration. A third inmate, 24, died of a virus that led to pneumonia.
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The safety of inmates at the Prince George's jail has drawn widespread attention since the apparent strangulation of Ronnie L. White, 19, who was found in his cell in June. County, state and federal officials are investigating.
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In a typical year, 85 percent of jails nationwide have no deaths, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which tracks inmate mortality rates. A majority of Maryland's estimated 25 jails reported few or no deaths from 2000 through 2005.
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Prince George's County Public Safety Director Vernon Herron would not comment on specific deaths or safety policies, citing the ongoing White investigation. It was unfair to compare the jail with others, he said, . . .
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White's death is under investigation by the Maryland State Police, the FBI and the Prince George's state's attorney. White, who was charged with killing a police officer, was found dead in his maximum security cell shortly after his arrest.
It was the second homicide at the jail in two years. Last year, Octuan Gant, imprisoned on assault charges, accused inmate Demetri R. Stover of taking a doughnut from a bin under Gant's bed.
Gant, who weighed 285 pounds, slugged the 169-pound Stover in the face with a closed fist, causing him to hit his head on the cement floor, according to court documents. Stover, 46, was taken to the jail's medical unit for observation but was not taken to the hospital for tests, according to the Stover family attorney. Stover was returned to his cell the same evening, the attorney said.
After Stover began convulsing and became unresponsive, he was flown to a hospital in Baltimore, where, after several days of treatment and surgery, he died.
Gant has been charged with manslaughter.
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