County considers bed swap at JDC to prevent suicide

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — In juvenile detention centers, even the right kind of bed could mean the difference between a lost life and a young person’s future.

That’s the difficulty recently presented by Judge Glenn Derryberry and Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) Clinical Director Dr. Thomas Hull to Allen County Commissioners during a Tuesday meeting. Due to an error made during the bidding process, the county planned to purchase a group of steel-framed beds that could be utilized to commit suicide.

“Our concern is that if the style is incorporated, it provides too many opportunities for self harm and suicide,” Derryberry said.

To fix the problem, Allen County Commissioners must decide to place a change order that will add $24,000 to the roughly $6.8 million project in order to ensure the right beds are procured.

“We think this is a real safety issue, and we need to really bite the bullet,” Derryberry said. “This is an area where we don’t want to cut corners.”

Dr. Hull noticed the problem and presented his findings to the commissioners. He said he had concerns that individuals could affix their bed sheets to the current steel-framed beds and use their body weight to slowly asphyxiate.

He said the planning for detention centers have to be cognizant of these types of problems because young people have increasing rates of suicide, which is compounded by the higher suicide rates of inmates.

Derryberry mentioned the findings of a recently released study by the Centers of Disease Control reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10- to 24-year-olds.

The current JDC has concrete beds. Derryberry said there have been no suicides at the current center, but there have been past attempts.

Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan said the commissioners have been discussing what types of beds were available with Juvenile Division Court Administrator Berlin Carroll as the JDC project moved along, but suicide concerns related to the beds had not come up. The commissioners thanked Dr. Hull and Derryberry for bringing it to their attention.

Commissioners have a few months to officially act on the change order, Allen County Commissioner Greg Sneary said, but he said he doubted it would take that long for official action.

“We don’t want to have it where something is a cause of danger,” Sneary said.

The construction of the new 20,303-square foot JDC began this past May. The county has dedicated $3.4 million to the project.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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