Last week, Times Leader reported on the Luzerne County Coroner’s determinations on the deaths of two inmates in the county jail. One was drug-related. The other was a prison suicide.
Luzerne County Prison in Pennsylvania has had a lot of inmate deaths. Most of them have been caused by suicide. Statistics on attempted prison suicides are as follows from 2015 to present:
- 2017 – 8 attempted prison suicides to date
- 2016 – 7 attempted prison suicides
- 2015 – 3 attempted prison suicides
Luzerne County Coroner Report: Prison Suicide Victims of 2017
These are just some of the suicide victims in the Luzerne County Prison so far in 2017:
Luzerne County Prison Possible Suicide: Joan Rosengrant
Joan Rosengrant was 47 years old when she committed suicide in this Pennsylvania county jail. Rosengrant was incarcerated on April 12. She failed to post bail of $500,000 after she was accused of supplying heroine and fentanyl in a fatal overdose earlier in the year.
The inmate and her co-defendant, Eric Scott Malia, were the first in the country to be charged with drug delivery leading to death.
Rosengrant died on the June 7. According to the autopsy results, her death was caused by combined effects of prescription drugs complicated by her physical condition. The results were announced by Luzerne County Coroner William Lisman.
The incident raised questions on whether the drugs were given to her by a prison doctor or from a doctor outside the prison before she was incarcerated. Linsman refused to confirm the types of prescription drugs found in her system or her medical condition.
However, the Luzerne County Coroner confirms they found traces of several drugs in Rosengrant’s system. These drugs are not typically associated with overdoes.
Joan Rosengrant’s death was ruled accidental, not criminal. Nevertheless, they did not rule out suicide. However, they found no evidence that she stockpiled any prescribed drugs in an attempt to harm herself.
Luzerne County Prison Suicide: Tricia Cooper
Tricia Cooper was 45 years old and from Old Kingston Township. She was in prison on a bench warrant. She had a history of criminal charges, including retail theft. Cooper was awaiting her preliminary hearing for a July 9 DUI charge in Hanover Township.
Cooper died from asphyxiation due to hanging on July 25.In other words, she hung herself in the county jail, committing suicide.
Prison officers were optimistic that they had caught Tricia’s suicide attempt in enough time to save her life, But, she died later at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
Luzerne County Prison Suicide: Brook Griesing
Brook Griesing died the same way as Tricia Cooper, by hanging herself to commit suicide. She was 23 years old and from Hazelton. Griesing was in prison upon her failure to post bail for her June 6 arrest.
The inmate was arrested for:
- Receiving stolen property
- Drug possessions
- A summary of traffic offence
Ideas for Fixing Prison Suicide Issues
Kathy Dobash, the councilwoman, suggested that the council use its investigative power under the county’s home room charter. She wants them to get to the bottom of the deaths and suicides in the Luzerne County Jail.
Councilman Eugene Kelleher sent an email to his council colleagues. He proposed on a different approach. This requires the appropriate administrators to prepare a report on recent prison events.
Kelleher wants the council to become better educated on prison procedures and policies. He wants them to show willingness to support appropriate recommendations to eliminate the current problems.
Director Rockorich has asked the mental health advocates to recommend inmate screening and monitoring protocol changes. This, he believes, will help to better detect potential inmate suicides. Rockorich has no problem with any constructive investigations or reviews.
“‘I think the meeting will result in us seeing that Director Rockovich and his staff are doing all that is humanly possible within staffing, budgetary and legal restrictions and are probably distraught more than those who do not work in the prison,’ Kelleher wrote.”