More than ten days after an inmate passed away at Delaware County’s correctional facilities, county officials say they are still unable to point to a conclusive cause of death.
Warden Laura Williams of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility announced the death to the Delaware County Jail Oversight Board at a meeting on Tuesday of last week, Feb. 14.
“A 25-year-old African-American male was found to be unresponsive in his cell,” Williams said of the death that happened just two days earlier on Sunday, Feb. 12.
“He was found by an officer who was working the unit. He [the guard] had been completing his tours as indicated by policy. The officer had been familiar with the individual and noticed that they were in a state of distress, or an atypical behavioral state of how they typically are, and immediately called a medical emergency within the facility,” Williams told the board.
Williams added that the inmate’s next of kin have been notified, and that by the time of her report to the board an initial autopsy had been completed by the medical examiner.
Although the county did not offer any further specifics, it is not uncommon for final autopsy reports to be delayed for days or even weeks while specialized tests such as measuring drug levels in a person’s bloodstream are finalized.
Last summer, two inmates took their own lives at the facility. The county has released precious few details about those incidents, not even releasing basic information such as name, age, and race of the deceased.
The prison hasn’t witnessed two suicides in a year since 2015, Broad + Liberty previously reported. Broad + Liberty also has a pending Right to Know request with the jail oversight board in an attempt to learn more information on those cases.
The county is still in its first year of managing the combination-prison/jail after the facility had been run by private entities for almost three decades.
The facility also endured an embarrassment this month when news broke that prison staff accidentally released the wrong inmate at one point in early February.
Despite those setbacks, the prison and county elected officials have expressed optimism while touting a decrease in the jail’s population as evidence of positive reform.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use his encrypted email at email@example.com. @shepherdreports