By Polly Keary, Editor
An internal investigation into an incident in which an inmate may have been dead for as many as 37 hours before it was noticed at MCC has raised some questions about prison procedures.
Jerry Jamison was last noticed alive the evening of Sept. 19, 2013. He’d worked a shift in the food service department and wasn’t assigned to work again for another two days. He ate dinner on the “main line” that evening, then went to choir until about 8:30 p.m. Video documentation shows that his television was turned off at about 10:30 p.m. Jamison didn’t have a cellmate.
There were eight inmate counts and more than 20 tier checks reported between then and the time it was noticed that Jamison was in bed unconscious just before noon Sept. 21. Further investigation revealed that he’d been dead for some time.
Jamison, 48, was under no obligation to leave his cell during the hours he didn’t have work duty. Another inmate tried to wake Jamison to go to dinner at about 5 p.m. on Sept. 20, but said he thought Jamison was asleep. Also that day, an officer delivered mail to Jamison, and left it on his feet, which staff said is standard practice when an inmate appears to be asleep.
When Jamison was discovered unresponsive the following day, he was found to be dead of what is believed to be a heart attack. Jamison, who was 18 months into a five-year sentence, had a medical condition.
An internal investigation is ongoing, but the incident review report, one of the steps in the process, brought to light some issues that the Department of Corrections call serious.
There were eight inmate counts during the time Jamison was alone in his cell. Six of those counts were formal. During such counts, staff are supposed to make sure they are counting “living, breathing” inmates, the report reads.
But given that Jamison seems to have been deceased well before it was discovered, likely such assurance was never made, the report said.
Furthermore, review of video revealed that a number of the tier checks that staff reported to be complete didn’t appear to have been done.
Also, cell inspections that are required daily would have resulted in interaction with Jamison had they been carried out according to policy, the report stated.
And count sheets that are supposed to be kept for 30 days were disposed of before the investigators could look at them.
“We take it very seriously,” said Will Mader, spokesperson at the Department of Corrections in Olympia
Maser didn’t know when the investigation, which could include instructions for MCC to address its policies, will be complete.