Re the May 21 article “Florida inmate slits his throat in front of deputies”: Often, those contemplating suicide offer no signs indicating suicidal thoughts.
In the case of Joseph Gazzola, he alerted his son, who then advised detention authorities; the groundwork was laid to achieve a successful outcome, but unfortunately, that did not occur.
During intake was Gazzola screened for depression? After being notified of Gazzola’s state of mind, what special precautions were taken beyond one check by deputies after the call and reliance on Gazzola’s response?
Would a strip search have been an appropriate, reasonable action given the suicide alert?
Sheriff Grady Judd’s contention that it was “Gazzola's responsibility to tell them if he felt like he wanted to kill himself” is absurd. Experts in the field know you cannot rely on inmates’ responses of well-being, which can quickly change.
Research published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2015 indicates that suicides have been the leading cause of death in jails every year since 2000. In 2013, suicides accounted for one-third of all inmate deaths.
Because it is the responsibility of detention officials to maintain a safe environment for inmates and staff, it is incumbent upon them to ensure detainees do not carry anything in or on their bodies that can jeopardize their safety and the safety of others.
In Gazzola’s case, it appears that lack of training and indifference prevailed, and another tragedy occurred.