Family Outraged at Kent Co. Officials After Inmate Suicide

Posted at 9:03 PM, May 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-06 22:40:54-04

Kent Co inmate deathGRAND RAPIDS, Mich. ( May 6, 2014) — A Grand Rapids man is dead after the Kent County Sheriff’s Office said that he hung himself with a bed sheet inside of his cell.

The man is the third inmate death at the jail in less than two months.

Ryan Maddox, 28, had been in the jail since November and the sheriff’s office said that he was a known risk to harm himself.

Maddox’s family said that he’s tried to commit suicide in the past, and now their biggest fear has come true.

Law enforcement said that at the time of his death, Maddox was on a medium level hold for being at risk to himself, and that he had been placed in their high risk cells at some point during his five month incarceration.

Maddox’s family said that there were warning signs they think were overlooked.


Ryan Maddox

“You want to be able to hug him. You are going to be okay. Now he’s gone. He’s young,” said Maddox’s sister-in-law Teresa Maddox.

Maddox’s family also said that although he had an extensive criminal past, it was his mental health that was the root of his problems.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said that on Monday, Maddox was already unresponsive when jail staff discovered him.

An officer who tried to save Maddox met with his family to answer any questions, something the family said gave them comfort.

Maddox had been in custody since November, after allegedly trying to strangle his mother. He was set to have a competency hearing on Friday after attempting to plead insanity. Maddox’s family said that he was a diagnosed schizophrenic, who also suffered from bipolar disorder.

Captain Chuck Dewitt said that Maddox had undergone several psychiatric evaluations, and was being held in a medium risk cell at the time of his suicide.

“No one feels worse about this situation than what I do because it is a recognition on both the family side as well as my staff’s side that we are hurting,” said Capt. Dewitt.

With this being the third inmate death inside the jail in less than two months, Dewitt said it’s important to understand that each situation has its own factors.

“Each situation however is different. One cannot be related to the other two, but much like you just said, it is absolutely an opportunity for us to again evaluate what it is that we are doing,” said Capt. Dewitt.

Dewitt said that the safety of everyone inside the jail is always his top priority, and stands behind the treatment of inmates.

Maddox’s family said that they hope the jail increases supervision of inmates who suffer from mental illness.

“If there is another troubled kid that goes into the system, I hope there are eyes on them, so he isn’t left alone for this to happen again. You know, so another family doesn’t have to deal with this pain,” said Maddox’s brother, Henry Maddox.

Law enforcement said that it is conducting an investigation into Maddox’s death to see if there were any errors on the side of the jail staff, but said that investigation won’t be completed for several months.