Sheriff’s office ‘perplexed and sad’ after sixth inmate death at county jail

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Matt Haines said Thursday that jail staff are doing everything they can to keep inmates safe as they investigate the sixth inmate death at the jail this year — more than the total number of deaths at the jail in the prior two years combined.

The sheriff’s office confirmed that inmate Gerald Ford, 47, died on June 10 several hours after being booked into Montgomery County Jail.

Haines on Thursday said Ford was housed in a direct-supervision unit and was evaluated by medical staff upon his arrival. He was found having a medical emergency while he was laying in his bed 10 hours later.

Haines said these units are often used to house inmates who have medical conditions or who are believed to be detoxing from drugs.

Correctional medical staff responded initially. The Dayton Fire Department was called to the jail to take Ford to a local hospital, where he died.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office is investigating the cause of Ford’s death, Haines said.

The total number of deaths this year outpaces the number of deaths at the jail, by all causes, reported in 2021 and 2022 combined, according to Montgomery County Coroner’s Office records.

“Each of these is a tragedy, not only to the friends and loved ones of the inmate that’s passed away, but also to the other inmates that were involved when somebody goes down,” Haines said.

Haines said the sheriff’s office reviews its policies and procedures following an inmate death.

“We’re doing everything we can, but we’re still perplexed and sad,” he said.

Montgomery County Jail Coalition member and University of Dayton professor Joel Pruce said that inmate deaths have been a crisis since the beginning of the year.

“We are alarmed, but not surprised,” he said. “We deserve to have a public accounting of what is going wrong and why the system is failing so many people.”

Pruce said the prison system was not designed to be a place for people to get well, and raised concern over the jail’s contractor for health services, Naphcare.

“The provider that taxpayers pay for care needs to be scrutinized,” he said.

Haines said the recent deaths the jail has seen are predominantly related to pre-existing medical conditions. Increasingly, these medical conditions are among people who use substances over several years.

Other local inmate deaths involve mental health disorders and suicide or even drug overdoses from drugs that are smuggled into the facility.

Five other jail deaths this year

· Steven D. Blackshear, 54, of Dayton, was booked into the jail Jan. 26 and awaiting trial for misdemeanor theft. He died Jan. 29. The coroner’s office said the cause was “intoxication by fentanyl. Atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing conditions.”

· Aaron Dixon, 52, who was being held on drug charges since Jan. 9, when he died on Jan. 13. The coroner’s office said the cause was “Fentanyl and buprenorphine intoxication.”

· Amber Goonan, 41, was arrested on charges of drug possession and booked into the jail on Feb. 19. She died on Feb. 24 of “multiple drug intoxication” including fentanyl, fluorofentanyl, and others, according to the coroner’s office, with bronchopneumonia as a contributing factor.

· Isaiah Trammell, 19, was arrested on charges of domestic violence on March 13, and died March 16. His cause of death is still under investigation.

· Amanda K. Campbell, 44, of Vandalia, was arrested on a warrant from Vandalia Municipal Court for theft, warrants from Montgomery County Eastern Division for receiving stolen property and obstructing official business and a warrant from Kettering Municipal Court for falsification. She was booked into the jail April 2 and died there at 7:02 a.m. April 4. According to the sheriff’s office spokesperson, Campbell’s death was “naturally caused because of her extensive health issues.” The investigation of her death is also pending.

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