Letter: Jail officials must pursue solutions



Suicide attempts in the Clark County Jail have continued to rise, more than doubling since 2007.

In recent Columbian stories about suicides at the jail, Cmdr. Mike Anderson has said, “When you have as many people as we do in custody with mental health issues, you just never know who is going to do it,” and “It’s just a tragedy.” Sheriff Garry Lucas says, “It’s something we’ve been concerned about for a long time.”

Really? Does Anderson have any kind of training in the works to prevent another “tragedy”? Has Lucas become so “concerned” with the excuses of lack of money, staff, and poor facilities that it’s become easier to ignore the problem and let the mentally ill inmate decide his fate by hanging himself?

There have been three suicides in 2012. County commissioners have requested a work session with jail administrators to discuss procedural issues. Clark County has a Mental Health Advisory Board that reports to the commissioners. Perhaps the two groups can meet together and present a solution. As an example, a mental health professional has access to records of clients with mental health illnesses, and could be used as a knowledge source prior to jail booking. It’s a start, and it might save some lives.

Steve King