Utah county jails have a common major problem: prison suicides. And more than likely most could have been prevented. Finally, someone is standing up and making the prisons pay for what they have done wrong.
Unfortunately, it’s after another prison death.
Duchesne County Jail is a 2-hour trip from Salt Lake City, Utah. There, a 25-year-old was in jail awaiting trail. The inmate is facing a 15-year sentence for a probation violation related to felony misdemeanor drug convictions.
Tanna Jo Fillmore was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The woman prisoner was found unresponsive in her cell in November of 2016. She couldn’t be revived. And according to an autopsy, suicide was the cause of death.
Prison Suicide: Tanna Jo Fillmore’s Mother Fights Back
Fillmore’s mother, Melany Zoumadakis, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on November 23. Her daughter was in jail just one week. She never received medication.
Tanna called three times asking her mother to bring her medication because the jail withheld them from her. The last time she noted that she was going to kill herself.
The jail staff refused to give Fillmore her prescribed medication for NINE days. They did an intake health screening. So, they had knowledge of her mental illness from previous stays in that same facility.
Nine days off medication and the stress of the potential sentence caused a break. The jail not only refused treatment but doesn’t properly train or supervise the medical staff.
The lawsuit states that she experienced severe psychological and emotional trauma. Zoumadakis seeks punitive damages wants to spur jail reforms within the county.
The lawsuit names:
- Sheriff David Boren, the formal medical director of the jail
- Kennon Tubbs, responsible for contract medical services
- Jana Clyde, the jail’s nurse
Jana Clyde has been charged in the past with a misdemeanor negligent homicide in the death of another inmate in 2016. It was related to 21-year-old Madison Jensen, who died from dehydration.
The judge threw out that case, claiming there wasn’t enough evidence. But there is an appeal in the process.
Prison Suicide is Not Just a Utah Problem… It’s a National Problem
Suicides in jails and prisons is a major problem. It’s becoming a trend in many states.
In Utah alone, prison suicide is the leading cause of death in county jails. More than half of those who died took their own lives from 2013-2017.
Mental health is not just an issue within the jails, but also in prisons. County jails need to provide better care for those with mental health issues. Withholding an inmate’s medicine should never be an option.