As D.C. Jail Suicides Grow, Task Force Asked to Step in

Despite creation of task force, two suicides reported this summer

By Chris Gordon and Mila Mimica
|  Friday, Sep 6, 2013  |  Updated 6:09 PM EDT
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Department of Corrections officials are promising that inmates will be checked on more frequently following another suicide inside the DC Jail. It's the fourth inmate suicide in recent months. News4's Chris Gordon reports.

Chris Gordon

Department of Corrections officials are promising that inmates will be checked on more frequently following another suicide inside the DC Jail. It's the fourth inmate suicide in recent months. News4's Chris Gordon reports.

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The role of a task force at the D.C. Jail is being put under scrutiny after a man committed suicide inside his cell Monday.

Mike Johnson, 53, is the fourth suicide at the jail on D Street SE since November. He was behind bars on sex assault charges since December and was found hanged in his cell.

His death comes about a month after Corrections Department Chief Tom Faust announced his office was creating a task force that would review mental health assessments and screenings.

Faust also requested the National Institute of Corrections to provide an expert of suicide prevention to review all jail procedures. This includes more frequent monitoring of inmates in 15-minute intervals instead of 30 minutes.

The highest profile suicide occurred the same month the task force was created -- Labor Department attorney Paul Mannina, who was charged with sexually assaulting his co-worker, was found dead in his cell with his throat cut.

Faust told News4's Chris Gordon he does not believe the initiative is a failure.

"There has been a need to aggressively address this issue," Faust said. "Can I guarantee that there will not be a suicide? Of course not. Will I guarantee that we will bring all resources possible to [reduce that]? Absolutely."

In November, 30-year-old Michael English, who was the suspect in a stabbing, was found hanged in his cell. Then, Walter Calloway, 42, was found hanged in his cell on June 29. The Washington Post reported he was a suspect in a child sex abuse case.

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