King County Jail Suicides Up

Oct 18, 2010

Three inmates have committed suicide in the King County jail in the past few weeks. The latest was a 33 year old man who died at Harborview Medical Center. The robbery suspect was found hanging in his cell on September 20.

The King County Correctional Facility has been cited in the past for failing to prevent suicide.

Back in 2007, the United States Department of Justice investigated the King County jail and issued a blistering report saying safety and health conditions were so substandard that they amounted to a violation of inmates civil rights.

Among the concerns was lack of meaningful suicide prevention. The jail is currently under federal oversight, required to improve operations. King County jail officials say they've put a number of procedures in place.

They say they now screen all inmates for suicide risk and put those with an increased risk under more intense monitoring.

In a report issued in May, jail staff received praise from the federal overseer for making "steady progress" in improving jail conditions, although it was noted that the county was still not in "full compliance." In light of the recent suicides, the county says it is reviewing all policies and procedures in collaboration with the Department of Justice.

The most recent inmate to die by suicide is Ryan Robertson, a Seattle resident. Christopher Goldner died on August 16 and Arnold Sharkey killed himself on September 13.