3rd suicide this year again draws attention to Macomb County jail

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham confirmed this morning that an inmate hung himself in the Macomb County jail — the third suicide at the facility in the past 2½ months.

Wickersham said on Wednesday a 34-year-old male, who was being held on charges of criminal sexual conduct out of Clinton Township and a controlled substance charge out of Roseville, was found hanging by a bed sheet. He had been at the jail since July 10.

On Saturday, he said, a white male, 49, also committed suicide by hanging. He had been at the jail since July 13 on charges of operating while intoxicated III, failure to stop after collision, and operating while license revoked/denied.

And on May 6, a 28-year-old woman also committed suicide by hanging. The woman was being held at the jail since March 31 on charges of solicitation of murder, tampering with electronic monitor device, and contempt of court in St. Clair Shores.

Renee Yax, media relations spokesman for the jail, said the names of the three suicide victims wouldn’t be released.

Since 2014, there have been four suicides at the jail, three this year and one in 2015.

The sheriff's office noted that suicide is the leading cause of death in local jails every year since 2000 and accounted for 34% of all jail deaths in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“On average there are 1,238 prisoners at the jail on a daily basis,’’ said Wickersham. “In all these situations we look at what was done before and do we need to make any changes.

"Looking at these three from 2017, there was really no indication or something that would bring to our attention that maybe we should move these people somewhere else. . ... Our staff did their security round and did the checks. After yesterday’s event I ordered additional checks.’’

Wickersham said that shifts will go from patrolling the inmates once every 50 minutes to twice every 50 minutes to monitor the environment.

The jail has been under scrutiny for deaths at the facility over the past four years.

  • Jennifer Myers, a 37-year-old mother, died while serving a short sentence for being behind on child support payments in 2013. She died from a virus that moved through her body in 12 days.
  • David Stojcevski, 32, of Roseville died on June 27, 2014 after withdrawal from prescription drugs. He lost 50 pounds in the days leading up to his death, according to reports. He was in jail serving a 30-day sentence for failing to appear in court on a traffic ticket for careless driving. He was locked up in a mental health cell at the jail and was under constant video surveillance. He was seen naked on the floor of the cell in videos that were released. His family filed a federal lawsuit against the county.
  • In April 2015, Michael Piotrowski, 39, died within 24 hours of entering the jail. He was serving time on weekends for back child support. Later that year, Daniel Byrd, 42, died on his 23rd day of custody. An autopsy found methadone in his system. Both deaths were from drug overdoses.

The jail also came under fire in March last year when Jessica Preston was forced to give birth to her son, Elijha on the floor of a cell. She was in jail for driving with a suspended license.

A 164-page report by a liability company in May also was critical of the county’s justice system and offered recommendations for a smoother operation.

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