The Grand Traverse County Jail Suicide Crisis

There’s a suicide crisis in the Grand Traverse County Jail. If you end up in the Grand Traverse County Jail, your chances of committing suicide are high. Let’s look at how bad the problem is:

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, deaths by suicide in county jails nationwide range from 228 per year to 327 per year. So in any given year, 228-327 people will commit suicide in a county jail. That’s for the whole United States.

There are 3,142 counties and county equivalents in the United States. That works out to approximately 1 jail suicide in every county jail every 10 years. And Grand Traverse has had two in the last 365 days alone.

Now let’s take county population into account. Grand Traverse County has about 92,000 residents. There are 327 million people in the United States. Do the math, and the average county in the United States has 104,073 people. Grand Traverse is slightly less than average in terms of population.

That means the Grand Traverse County Jail should have one suicide approximately every 10 years. And again, we’ve had two in the last calendar year alone.

Why is it that Sheriff Bensley and Grand Traverse County Prosecutor and 86th District Court Judge Candidate Bob Cooney can’t seem to figure out how to keep people from committing suicide in the county jail? It seems to be a priority for neither of the men, but why?

Are you hoping enough people will kill themselves in the jail that it will prompt the voters and commissioners to approve the new that jail you wanted years ago but didn’t get? Are people who are arrested in Grand Traverse County just scummy scum whose lives don’t matter? In Ms. Palmer’s case, she was serving a relatively short sentence for a minor offense. That hardly makes her scummy scum no matter how judgmental you are of other people. In Mr. Halloway’s case, an inquiry into the matter showed that the problem was egregious employe failures – not something a shiny new jail would fix without cultural changes in the law enforcement community.

Oh, it’s not pouting about not getting your new toy? And you actually care about the people you house? I’ll believe it when your statistics improve.

Young people are often told (usually in a condescending tone), that if they want to change the world, start by cleaning their own bedroom. Bob, if you want to be a judge, start by cleaning up the Grand Traverse County Jail’s suicide crisis. Tom, if you want a shiny new jail, start by serving and protecting in the jail that you have. Or do you only serve and protect your own?

It appears that neither of you is ready for any more responsibility.

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