Lawsuit cites NECIR findings on jail suicides

Three mentally ill inmates sued the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office for mistreatment, citing an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting that found its suicide rate was double that of other county jails in Massachusetts and triple of the national rate.

The complaint comes eight months after an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that the Bristol County jail accounted for nearly a quarter of all jail suicides in Massachusetts from 2006 to 2016 even though it houses just 13 percent of inmates.

NECIR also found that officials warned the sheriff’s office on two separate occasions that inmates were likely suicidal, but the men were left alone in their cells and killed themselves within days.

The suit claims the three prisoners were placed into solitary confinement in small cells for long periods of time, putting them at serious risk of self-harm. It claims the jail relies on segregation – where inmates must stay for as much as 23 hours a day — to house inmates with mental illnesses rather than providing them needed treatment.