Female Hawaiian inmate Jessica Fortson is not rare. Prison and jail suicides are an epidemic in the US.
Prison Suicides & Deaths

Were Hawaii Correctional Facility Deaths Actually Prison Suicides?

Hawaii ruled that the 10 prison inmates who died in correctional facilities since 2015 committed suicide. But prison advocates say this may not be the entire truth. State lawmakers have also questioned the circumstances surrounding the prison deaths.

Ashley Gray is the last Hawaiian inmate whose death was ruled a suicide. Kat Brady, coordinator of Community Alliance on Prisons would not readily agree to this ruling. Brady recalled visiting Gray with her family and taking notice of her injuries before she died:

“She had a black eye, a cut under her eyebrow, a knot on her forehead, a busted lip.”

Prison Suicides in the US by State
Prison Suicides in the US by State. Check out Hawaii’s numbers. Image Source: CNN

Inmates Have Been Known To Commit Suicide After Visits or Phone Calls

DeMont Conner of Ho’omana Pono Political Action Committee disclosed he has 27 years work experience within the prison system. He said many of the prison deaths ruled as suicides are not necessarily so.

But Nolan Espinda, director of the Department of Public Safety would not agree with critics. He stated that correctional officers are always watching suicidal inmates as well as their visitors. Espinda

said inmates on suicide watch are monitored every five minutes. Incidentally, the 10 inmates who died were never on suicide watch.

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Espinda noted he observed that inmates tend to commit suicide after a bad phone call with relatives or after a terrible visit from them.

Female Hawaiian inmate Jessica Fortson is not rare. Prison and jail suicides are an epidemic in the US.
Female Hawaiian inmate Jessica Fortson is not rare. Prison and jail suicides are an epidemic in the US. Image Source: Huffington Post

Inmates Fool Prison Officials Over Suicidal Dispositions Until It’s Too Late

Corrections Health Care Division Administrator Wes Mun revealed suicidal inmates sometimes deceived prison officials. They mask their suicidal tendencies and correctly answer questions that may have given them away as suicidal.

He added patients supply all the correct answers that fool officials during suicide risk evaluations, but still end up killing themselves.

Lawmaker Clarence Nishihara said he will take up the community concerns with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety. He said he needs to get to the bottom of “how some of these inmates were found.”

Community voices, however, insist the Department of Public Safety must answer to investigations over the controversial prison deaths… suicides or not.

Charles Omedo
Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.