Medical Abuse/Neglect and Suicide





Sister: Jail should have seen signs

Inmate who killed self tried suicide last fall

By Milton J. Valencia

April 16, 2005

WORCESTERAn inmate who killed himself at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction last weekend tried to kill himself six months earlier, when he was first brought to the facility, a jail official and the man’s sister confirmed yesterday.

“He had issues. He had a drug problem. He needed help,” Rachel Binette said, questioning why her brother was not on suicide watch.

Her brother, Ronald G. Binette, 33, who gave authorities addresses in Worcester, was found Sunday morning hanged from a doorway in a second-floor bathroom in one of the jail’s modular buildings. The body was discovered shortly after Mr. Binette was reported missing during a routine count of prisoners.

Jail officials have said Mr. Binette did not exhibit any behavior that would lead them to believe he would kill himself. They said he sought medical help for chest pains Sunday morning, showing officials he cared about his health.

“All the indications from his interactions with staff that morning … were he was not someone who was going to kill himself,” jail Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Turco said yesterday.

But Mr. Binette had tried to kill himself at least twice before, most recently in October, when he was first taken to the jail.

Mr. Binette was arrested for disturbing the peace in October, and was sentenced to the jail in November. Worcester Central District Court records show he was listed as a suicide risk when he was arrested.

Soon after being taken to the jail, he slit his wrists in an attempt to kill himself, his sister said.

“I think he tried to get help from the jail, but they didn’t help,” Ms. Binette said.

She said she feared for her brother, who was homeless and had a drug addiction. Worcester police records show Mr. Binette attempted to hang himself while he was being booked for an arrest in 1991, when he was 19 years old.

At one point last year, Ms. Binette said, she became worried about her brother after a chance encounter with him. She sought a court order to have police take him into custody because she feared he would try to kill himself. However, police couldn’t help her because she had no address for him and couldn’t tell them where to find him.

Ms. Binette said she was notified by jail officials after the attempted suicide in October, and said her brother sought help. The jail has several mental health counselors through a private contractor, Advocates Inc. Jail correction officers are also trained in suicide prevention and to recognize warning signs.

Mr. Binette was released from the jail March 5 on probation. He was arrested again April 10 on a warrant for an alleged probation violation. The warrant had been issued March 11, and a hearing had been scheduled for May 4.

Two days after his arrest, Mr. Binette killed himself. “He was only in there for 48 hours,” his sister said.

Mr. Turco, the superintendent, stressed Mr. Binette did not show any signs he would kill himself, leaving jail officials to believe he was OK.

At 8:30 Sunday morning, inmates in the medium-security section of the jail were given a two-hour “yard time” to roam the grounds, but Mr. Binette instead went to the infirmary, complaining of chest pains.

He was examined quickly by a nurse, who told him he seemed OK but she would check on him soon for a full examination. A half-hour later, she did, and gave him a complete review in the infirmary. Mr. Binette seemed healthy and declined an offer to stay there for monitoring, Mr. Turco said. Two hours later, after a count showed he was missing, Mr. Binette was found, hanged with a sheet.

Mr. Turco said jail officials were aware of Mr. Binette’s past and said a majority of the inmates in the facility have a history of mental illness. He said the jail has no resources to put every such inmate on suicide watch, saying doing so would put hundreds of the jail’s 1,300-plus inmates on suicide watch each day. He said the jail makes sure to monitor an inmate’s health, and that Mr. Binette seemed OK.

Copyright 2005 Worcester Telegram & Gazette

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     Last Updated on Wednesday August 29, 2007.