The death row inmate scheduled for execution Wednesday has been placed under constant surveillance to avert potential suicide.
Harry Mitts Junior has been monitored since last Wednesday. Standard policy calls for a suicide watch to begin 72 hours in advance. Nearly 900 men and women have tried to commit suicide in Ohio's prisons since the year 2000 and 88 of them have ended their lives. A study by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee examined two high-profile suicides in the last two months. ML Schultze of member station WKSU in Kent reports.
The rate of suicides in Ohio prisons is 12 per 100,000. That’s about one-quarter less than the national rate of 16 per 100,000..
The Ohio prison that saw the most of such deaths has been the Southeast Ohio Correctional Facility, a men’s maximum security prison about an hour southeast of Columbus. The Committee’s Executive Director Jennifer Saul says in one way, the prison personifies those most likely to kill themselves.
“There are definitely clear segments of the inmate population that are more likely to commit suicide: male inmates, inmates who are white, higher secrutity setting inmates such as segregation or you more maximum security institutie. And also the fact that suicide affect more people who are incarcerated under two years or more than 10 years.”
Southeast has a mental health residential unit. But Saul says one surprise in the study is that prisoners who were receiving mental health treatment were no more likely to kill themselves than those who were not getting no treatment.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections is doing its own review of deaths over the last two years. The study began after Billy Slagle killed himself in the Chillicothe Correctional Institute three days before he was to be executed in early August. Less than a month later, Ariel Castro hanged himself while he in a prison processing center. He’d been sentenced to life plus 1,000 years for kidnapping, raping and imprisoning three women for a decade.