Prisoner found dead in booking center cell Guard discovers inmate hanging from top bunk

August 09, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

An inmate was found dead in his cell yesterday afternoon at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center, hanging from a noose made from his bedsheet, said LaMont Flanagan, commissioner of the state Division of Pretrial Detention and Services.

A correctional officer who had just come on duty found Michael Mitchell, 37, of the 2100 block of Division St. in West Baltimore hanging from the top bunk of his cell about 3 p.m. during a count of inmates routinely done after a shift change.

The commissioner said state police are investigating the death, the first at central booking, which opened at Madison and Fallsway in November.

Mitchell had been alone in the cell, Flanagan said.

Although prisoners believed to be at risk of committing suicide are monitored more frequently and given paper gowns and sheets, Mitchell had not been on such a watch.

"We are investigating all his moves and the processes that affected his moves very cautiously and carefully to determine whether there were any external factors that might have precipitated his decision to take his life," Flanagan said.

The officer who found Mitchell alerted the medical staff, and a nurse attempted to revive the prisoner until the crew of a city Fire Department ambulance arrived to assist.

Mitchell did not regain consciousness and was pronounced dead at the scene by the ambulance crew, Flanagan said.

The apparent suicide is the fifth in the past five years for all city detention centers, Flanagan said.

Citywide, the centers take in 30,000 prisoners a year, he said.

"We have a very successful suicide prevention program," Flanagan said. "But it depresses me when even one life is lost, whether it's suicide or violent predators inside these walls."

Mitchell was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance.

Flanagan said 38 vials of cocaine were recovered when Mitchell was arrested.

Mitchell was denied bail at a bail review hearing yesterday, and a Sept. 6 trial date was set, the commissioner said.

He said Mitchell is survived by his wife and two children.

Pub Date: 8/09/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.