Howard County's executive and its jail director said yesterday that they will review and consider changing the jail's procedures for identifying potentially suicidal inmates.
Their comments followed an article in The Sun yesterday that detailed how guards at the Howard County Detention Center failed to heed warning signs that might have prevented the suicide last month of a 31-year-old inmate, Edward Leroy Bennett of Southwest Baltimore.
"We have prevented many suicides," said James N. Rollins, the jail director. "My officers do receive training but we'll review our policies and see if there are any changes needed."
The Dec. 9 suicide, the second at the jail since 1991, was not publicized until inmates wrote letters to the news media.
County Executive Charles I. Ecker said yesterday that in the future, the county will issue news releases when deaths occur at the jail.
He also said he will look into whether the jail followed proper procedures in Mr. Bennett's case and whether the jail's current procedures are adequate. When that inquiry will be conducted has not been decided, Mr. Ecker said.
"In hindsight, it's easy to say [the procedures] were not adequate," Mr. Ecker said in defense of the jail. "I don't know if we should change them or not."
County Councilman Darrel Drown supported the jail, saying, "We don't need to spend a whole bunch of time on the rules, policies and procedures. We shouldn't be putting the correctional officers and the police on trial."
Mr. Bennett, who was arrested Dec. 8 on charges stemming from a 1993 theft of scrap metal in North Laurel, committed suicide 31 hours after he entered the Jessup jail.