UPDATED: Spate Of Suicides Hits Understaffed Broward County Jail | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

UPDATED: Spate Of Suicides Hits Understaffed Broward County Jail

This morning another inmate died at his own hand at the Broward County Jail.

The inmate, 39-year-old Dervis Lawrence (left), hanged himself with a sheet, confirmed Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright. Lawrence was incarcerated on a murder charge, accused of shooting his wife.

This is at least the fourth suicide at the jail in the past year. I learned of this morning's hanging from a jailhouse source, prompting BSO's confirmation. [UPDATED: The sheriff's office posted a press release on the hanging since this was posted. Notice the headline. It's not "Inmate Commits Suicide in Jail," it's "Murder Suspect Commits.." See? It's only a murderer, so who cares? I wonder if they would be that specific if the guy was in for DUI or a marijuana charge.]

According to the source, a deputy, this morning's hanging -- and possibly others -- may have been prevented if the jail were fully staffed. The inmate simply waited for the housing deputy to take another prisoner to court, which left him unsupervised long enough to hang himself with a sheet. It's not known how long he was dead before deputies discovered him. 

"[Sheriff] Al Lamberti's running the jail with skeleton crews," says the deputy. "We don't have enough manpower. You have just one housing deputy, and when he leaves to take people down to court, the inmates are not being checked. All that's left is a control-room deputy who can't leave his post. We're supposed to have movement deputies to move the inmates to court, but they don't have enough manpower to do that." 

Even if you have no compassion for the inmates, understand that every one of these hangings will likely lead to a lawsuit and/or settlement that will cost taxpayers more money. And the jail situation is only going to get worse, since BSO is terminating 177 jail workers, including 70 deputies. Their last day is scheduled to be July 21.

Blance Boltos, suffering from heroin withdrawal, also hanged himself with a sheet last August. Another inmate died of hanging in November (though his information wasn't immediately made public), and Valery Torbin, an accused murderer, hanged himself with a sheet in January.

More on this later.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman