published Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Chattanooga: Inmate watched suicide in jail cell

An inmate at Hamilton County Jail used a ripped “suicide proof” blanket to hang himself last week while his cellmate with a mental disorder watched, a Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s report released Monday states.

Jason Matthew Logan, 30, who was booked on burglary and driving-related charges last Tuesday, had a history of depression and drug addiction and had been placed on suicide watch at the jail.

Jail employees found him hanging in a cell on Thursday.

His suicide was the second at the jail in seven months, records show.

Logan had told Hamilton County Jail personnel he was depressed and contemplated killing himself, his mother, Suzanne Logan, said in a previous interview.

A cellmate watched Logan hang himself from the 8-foot mesh ceiling with a portion of the ripped blanket. However, the cellmate could not call guards because he has a mental disorder that prevents him from communicating in any meaningful way, according to the report.

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Capt. John Swope said he could not comment on Logan’s case pending the outcome of an investigation.

However, he did say that inmates on suicide watch sometimes are placed in a cell with another inmate. When an inmate is evaluated by the crisis response team, a determination is made about their needs, which can range from a deputy constantly watching them to deputies checking the cell every 30 minutes. Sometimes the evaluation results in requesting admittance to a mental health facility.

He declined to state what determination was made in Logan’s case.

The jail purchases the “suicide proof” blankets and garments from a North Carolina-based company, Bob Barker Co.

The blankets are priced at $90.75 and are marketed with the slogan, “For peace of mind, protection and compassionate care,” according to the company’s website.

The description also states the blankets are sturdy — using polyester fabrics, “lockstitch quilted to polyester inner batting” with nylon bonded thread for the stitching.

“Virtually impossible to tear. Can’t be easily disassembled. Can’t be easily twisted into knots or nooses,” the product description states. Officials from Bob Barker Co. did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday afternoon.

Swope said the blankets are disposed of by jail staff if they notice wear and tear on the material.

“In most cases, they stand up,” Swope noted, before also adding, “There’s nothing that’s indestructible.”

Family members buried Logan Monday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.

In a previous interview, Suzanne Logan stated she was looking for answers. She said her son fought addiction and depression for years.

“It was just a struggle for him,” she said.

The last suicide at the jail occurred in October 2010 when an inmate hanged himself with a bed sheet.

Swope said the most recent death speaks to a larger issue of the jail dealing with more and more mental health issues with inmates.

About 15 years ago, the crisis response team, which was a fairly new concept, would respond to the jail sporadically to make mental health evaluations for inmates. Now, the team must respond about two to three times a day, Swope said.

“The problem we have is a lack of treatment opportunities for people with mental health issues. ... Mental illness is very prevalent at our jail and other jails, if it keeps going like it’s going now, we will see an increase of people on suicide watch or who have different levels of mental illness,” Swope said.

“We have the task of handling it the best we can with limited resources.”

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6406.

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chioK_V said...

What shift did the suicide take place? Second shift jailers @ the Hamilton County Jail are lazy bozos.

May 10, 2011 at 12:35 p.m.
HannaBeckman said...

a dumbass watching a dumbass!!!!LOL

May 10, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.
svh said...

This man watched for me to leave my home with my child last tuesday. He and another man then broke into my house and thanks to the police officers and detectives responding as quick as they did this man was caught. After all of that, I would never wish this on anyone. Sympathy goes out to his family. I am sorry for your loss. God Bless.

May 10, 2011 at 3:02 p.m.
dnrljn2 said...

@HannaBeckman- had you known this "dumbass" you would know that he was far from a dumbass and a very kind and loving person, who struggled with addiction and depression for a very long time. I ask that you remove your comment for his family's sake.. because his friends- like myself, and family would not appreciate your harsh words. Jason was a good person that wanted to straighten his life out, but his record from the past haunted him and he felt as if he would not be able to overcome it. Jason- you will be missed and loved always.

May 10, 2011 at 6:22 p.m.
ceeweed said...

HannaBeckman, your stupid LOL is probably a just portrait of you: Loser-On-Line...You think your heartless comment was funny? On what level?

May 10, 2011 at 10:14 p.m.
dnrljn2 said...

Thank you ceeweed, that was simply heartless and really hurts people that love him, i cannot believe people are so selfish and heartless!

May 10, 2011 at 10:20 p.m.
ta2dmom said...

Sounds like someone changed their story from a previous article "The same day, Soddy-Daisy police officers arrested Logan on charges of burglary and public intoxication after he was accused of trying to push his way into a residence at 9607 Barbee Road. The woman answering the door told police that she was able to push Logan back" and now on the comments from this article "svh said... This man watched for me to leave my home with my child last tuesday. He and another man then broke into my house and thanks to the police officers and detectives responding as quick as they did this man was caught. What Jason "attempted" to do was not right, but please stick to one story.

May 11, 2011 at 11:51 a.m.
mella_yella said...

Since the jailers knew the man was suicidal why would they place him in a cell with an individual who wasn't capable of alerting them if the individual tried to commit suicide? That's where the incompetence. That's where the investigation should be focused. On the complete incompetence and disregard of the jailers for this man's safety. Maybe HCSO should look into hiring more intelligent jailers, or maybe just humane ones.

May 11, 2011 at 7:15 p.m.
summerpwr23 said...

Svh..... How did you push him out of the door if you werent there? And what other man was with him? There was no other man mentioned.

May 17, 2011 at 2:20 p.m.
summerpwr23 said...

And YOU....HANNABECKMAN, I suggest you watch your mouth, and retract your statement. Who are you to say ANYTHING as you hide behind your computer screen? You know nothing about my brother, and to see someone post something so ignorant and disrespectful makes me sick, yet shows who the true and what you consider "dumbass" is.

May 17, 2011 at 2:24 p.m.
summerpwr23 said...

Thank you Ceeweed and drljn2.

May 17, 2011 at 2:25 p.m.
april29 said...

I am so sorry to hear about jason's death. We dated for a short time back when we went to soddy middle school together. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

November 14, 2011 at 9:36 p.m.
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