Inmate hangs himself in
Sheriff repeats plea to ease
September 23, 2005
WEST BOYLSTON— A
35-year-old inmate committed suicide early yesterday at
the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction, jail
Jason Smith, of Australia, hanged himself in his maximum
security cell just after 6 a.m., according to Jeffrey
Turco, deputy superintendent of the jail.
He left a suicide note tucked in a Bible, Mr. Turco
Correction officers used an electronic defibrillator to
try to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at
7:08 a.m., Mr. Turco said.
Mr. Smith was arrested in Holden earlier this month on
misdemeanor larceny and check-forging charges. He was
being held on $2,500 bail pending a scheduled appearance
in Leominster District Court Monday.
When he arrived at the jail Sept. 2, Mr. Smith was
placed on a 24-hour suicide watch after he refused to
agree not to harm himself, Mr. Turco said. Mr. Smith,
whom Mr. Turco said had an extensive criminal history,
had no previous suicide attempts on record.
The next day, a mental health worker at the jail took
him off the suicide watch after it was determined he was
unlikely to try to kill himself, Mr. Turco said.
“He had the standard anxiety of anyone coming to jail,”
he said. “He made no threats to hurt himself. There were
no concerns. He didn’t complain about anything until,
ultimately, this happened.”
Mr. Turco said jail records indicate that correction
officers had patrolled Mr. Smith’s tier three times an
hour before the suicide and had noticed nothing amiss.
Mr. Smith had originally been placed on a
medium-security tier. He was moved to a single-inmate
maximum security cell in the main older section of the
jail complex after officials learned Mr. Smith had told
Holden police that he had tried to escape from jail
twice in his native Australia, Mr. Turco said.
Mr. Smith’s death was the third inmate suicide this
year, and Sheriff Guy W. Glodis — who took office in
January — said the death underscored the need for more
space to reduce overcrowding at the jail complex by
expanding it and hiring more correction officers.
The sheriff is seeking up to $100 million from the state
Legislature for buildings to house 600 to 1,000 inmates.
The jail now has more than 1,400 prisoners and pretrial
Sheriff Glodis said his most immediate need is for a
high-security disciplinary unit to handle problem
One way the sheriff has tried to deal with the
overcrowding is by sending detainees who have previously
served state prison time back to state prisons.
He said earlier this week that the jail is too crowded
and is not equipped to accommodate female prisoners, as
some prisoners rights advocates have suggested it do in
light of the apparent fast-tracking at the Statehouse of
at least part of the sheriff’s funding request .
In the wake of the latest suicide, the sheriff yesterday
repeated his call for more space at the jail.
“This unfortunate incident confirms what this
administration and the Central Massachusetts legislative
delegation has been saying since January, that there has
been a desperate need for additional resources and
increased staff,” he said. “It is much needed to ease
jail overcrowding, and dumping an additional 100 female
inmates into a facility that is already bursting at the
seams is only going to make matters worse.”
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