Investigative documents obtained by The Associated Press on the 11 suicides in New York City jails over the past five years show that in at least nine cases, safeguards designed to prevent inmates from harming themselves weren’t followed. In one case, a mentally ill New York City inmate hanged himself from a shower pipe on his third try in three days. During that stretch, orders to put him on 24-hour watch were apparently ignored, along with a screening form that said he was “thinking about killing himself.”
Another inmate hanged himself with a bedsheet from an air vent in a solitary-confinement cell after repeatedly telling guards he was suicidal. The last time he said so, one of them replied, “If you have the balls, go ahead and do it.” In yet another case, an inmate hanged himself from a metal bed that he stood on end to create a scaffold, despite a year-old jailhouse directive to weld all beds to the floor. Communication breakdowns between mental health staff and guards, sloppy paperwork, inadequate mental health treatment and improper distribution of medication were frequently cited by investigators as factors in the deaths.