A group formed to examine claims of prisoner mistreatment in the Montgomery County Jail — where two inmates died in the past month — selected a consulting firm Tuesday to study operations there.
Immediately after that, though, the committee approved an additional consultant to help the first one.
When the team from CGL Companies’ regional office in Lexington, Ky., arrived to talk with the committee, the three men and one woman who would be conducting research with inmates at the jail were all white.
Though it added more time to the process, the jail committee and company agreed to bring a local diversity consultant into the process. During a jail committee meeting Tuesday, Mary Tyler of the National Conference for Community and Justice of Greater Dayton was approved to join the team conducting interviews inside the jail that books in about 26,000 inmates a year.
“The feeling was for the actual face-to-face contact with jail inmates that there should be some diversity represented,” said Rabbi Bernard Barsky, co-chair of the committee. “It’s important to encourage honest and comfortable responses from the inmates. A diversity consultant has been trained to deal with people from various ethnic and racial backgrounds so they don’t get the impression that this is another part of the ‘system,’ that this is somebody who can relate to them in a respectful way and hear them.”
Montgomery County Commissioners are expected to approve the contract at the earliest in mid-March.
The two most recent deaths include William Devoe, 37, who jailers said died from an apparent suicide attempt on Feb. 8, and Dillon Abplanalp, 28, who was found unresponsive in a cell Jan. 22. Final autopsy reports are pending on both deaths. Their deaths bring to seven the number of inmates who have died in the jail or in a hospital shortly after being removed from the jail, according to Daily News records.
The Rev. David Fox, a member of the Justice Advisory Committee, said the consultants’ work will need to help provide the group with solid data to tease out how bias and other factors that influence the treatment of inmates.
“We got to this place is because of allegations of abuse, and we can’t get away from that,” he said. “It’s our job to establish whether or not we’re going to have a jail that is safe and secure for the people who go into the jail. Right now the public thinks no.”
Fox said some in the community – particularly those in west Dayton – will be ready to dismiss the committee’s work due recent setbacks, including leadership changes in Dayton Public Schools and the unexpected loss of Good Samaritan Hospital.
Four lawsuits related to the county jail have been settled while another six are pending, including one involving Robert Richardson, who died May 19, 2012. That lawsuit alleges jail employees handcuffed and subdued Richardson on his stomach outside a cell door while he was having a medical emergency.
CGL Companies’ office in Lexington was picked by the committee to help the 10 members come up with recommendations to the Montgomery County Commission to prevent the kind of lawsuits that have cost the county more than $1 million in legal fees and settlements in recent months.
Based in Miami, CGL provides strategic planning and facility development for corrections facilities as well as physical maintenance of court facilities and prison campuses, according to the company’s website.
GCL was selected over four other companies that submitted proposals in November. The scope of the agreement and final cost — likely under $200,000 — are still being negotiated, said Joe Spitler, Montgomery County’s criminal justice director.