Five Deaths at County Jail

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With the death of Quentin Larry on
May 28, now five inmates have died in the
Champaign County Jail over a three year
period. Individuals should not die in police
custody – even if they are drug addicts. Citizens
must demand an independent investigation
into all five of these incidents.
Deaths in the local jails became an issue
in 2004 when three suicides occurred within
six months at the county jail. In the average
year, eight to nine jail suicides are documented
in Illinois. In 2004, jail suicides in
Champaign County represented one third of
the total in the state.
The third suicide was particularly suspicious.
Police claimed Joseph Beaver
hanged himself from a telephone cord in the
booking area.
Public outcry prompted Sheriff Dan
Walsh to hire a mental health counselor and
take precautionary measures in the downtown
and satellite jails. Yet it is clear that not
enough has been done.
In July 2005, one man died in police custody
of natural causes. This most recent
incident involving Quentin Larry, which the
police are calling “drug related,” makes five
deaths of individuals in police custody.
In November 2005, a rogue police officer
was exposed in the local jail. Serg e a n t
William Alan Myers is currently charged
with aggravated battery and obstructrion of
justice for using a taser on an imate. Myers
tased a restrained man four times in an
empty cell. Investigation found that he had
tased three other individuals, including one
African American woman who says she was
pregnant at the time.
Sheriff Walsh and State’s Attorney Julia
Rietz say they have pressed charges against
Myers and have done all they can.
How many more must die before we see
real reform in the local jails?
We don’t need the new $30 million jail
that both Walsh and Rietz are calling for.
We need counselors, social workers, educators,
and other alternatives to mass incarceration.
Join us for a Court Watch demonstration
Wednesday, May 31, 1pm at the county jail,
downtown Urbana.
Come to Court Watch meetings on Saturdays,
4pm at the Independent Media Center,
downtown Urbana, Broadway and Elm, in
the old post office.
Sponsored by Champaign-Urbana Citizens
for Peace and Justice, Visionaries Educating
Youth and Adults (VEYA), A n t i – Wa r, A n t i –
Racism Effort (AWARE), and the Urbana-
Champaign Independent Media Center.
Contact us at lifestratinst19@sbcglobal.

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
This entry was posted in Human Rights, Prisoners. Bookmark the permalink.

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