Another county jail in Ohio is catching heat after a series of deaths and injuries occurred on the premises within the last year.
According to the Associated Press, family members are calling out the small Gallia County Jail near the southern tip of Ohio after their loved ones died or experienced serious injuries. The facility, which already faces issues of being overcrowded, had one incident where an inmate named Joshua Bessey said he was shoved over by a sheriff’s deputy at the jail while strapped to a restraint chair back in September. Bessey, 31, suffered four days in a coma at a Columbus hospital and continues to suffer issues caused by a skull fracture and bleeding on his brain.
The former partner of a 36-year-old inmate named Mark Simms is also outraged that Simms wasn’t rushed to a hospital after complaining to corrections officers about stomach pains two days before collapsing and dying at the jail in December.
In another case, relatives of Lacey Wolford are demanding answers after the Sheriff’s Office said the 35-year-old man died from a drug overdose at the jail back in September.
Meanwhile, Sherry Russell is the mother of an inmate who committed suicide in jail back in September. She’s become an advocate for change there and she has questions about how her 27-year-old son David “Tommy” Gibson could have killed himself in an isolation cell where he was supposed to be under consistent surveillance.
The sheriff who oversees the jail, Matt Champlin, said that an internal investigation is underway in regards to the deaths and injuries at the jail. On Thursday, he said he’ll share more info once the investigation is completed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification.
“I look forward to the completion of this investigation so the facts can be known and we can continue this dialogue in an informed and responsible manner,” Champlin said. “Many of the ‘facts’ that have been reported are not based in truth, but mere speculation, and this type of conversation is not beneficial.”
Inspectors for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction have discovered continuing problems at the jail including overcrowding, broken security cameras and various other issues. Just in September, four male inmates overpowered two woman corrections officers and escaped the jail. All four were apprehended the next day in North Carolina.
The Gallia County Jail joins another list of Ohio jails that’ve been getting national attention for deaths or injuries. In 2018 alone, eight inmates died in Cuyahoga County. Four were classified as suicides, three were considered drug overdoses and one was from cancer. The Cuyahoga County Jail also faced backlash when video footage surfaced of a woman inmate being abused by male officers.