Man kills himself with razor in SLO County Jail

September 21, 2016

jailA 36-year-old Paso Robles man used a razor given to him by county jail staff to commit suicide, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. Correctional deputies found Jordan Benjamin Turner unresponsive inside his cell early Tuesday morning, and he was pronounced dead shortly later.

Last week, Morro Bay police arrested Turner on DUI and felony reckless driving charges. Officers booked Turner into the jail on Sept. 16.

On Monday, Turner requested a razor so he could shave before his court appearance that was scheduled for the next day, according to a sheriff’s office press release. It is standard procedure to issue a safety razor to inmates scheduled to appear in court, the press release states. The news release does not say whether Turner was given a safety razor.

At about 3:07 a.m. Tuesday, deputies performed a check on Turner. They performed another check at 3:29 a.m. after noticing no change in his position on the bunk with a blanket covering his body.

Deputies then found Turner unresponsive, without a pulse and with a large cut on the inside of his left arm above his elbow. The deputies began CPR immediately and requested an ambulance.

Registered nurses who work as medical staff at the jail assisted with CPR until paramedics arrived. After arriving, the paramedics continued CPR, but they did not manage to revive Turner.

Prior to entering the jail, Turner underwent a medical screening. During the screening, Turner stated he was not suicidal, and there was no indication he had suicidal tendencies, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff’s detectives are conducting an investigation into Turner’s death. They do no suspect foul play.

The last suicide recorded in the county jail occurred in 2005. More recently, there were five deaths in the jail over a 14-month span in 2014 and 2015.

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Inmates are not given “safety” razors until they are cleared by either Correctional Officers or by the Mental Health Staff (all TWO of them) who meet with said inmate before clearing them for razor privledges. The safety razor” isn’t unique. It is the same razor all inmates receive. There have also been grievences filed by inmates for NOT getting assigned a razor on their court appearance day. Its a double edged sword and jail staff do the best they can with the resources they are given.

I was of the understanding that the names of those who commit suicide are not generally published.

Read carefully; “[The razor was] given to him by county jail staff to commit suicide”.

There is a bigger story here. Perhaps the Sheriff’s Dept. was too accommodating.

According to the trib the inmate had his own private cell…In slo co jail they only have private cells on the ad-seg deck, and you only get sent to the ad-seg deck if you are a danger to yourself or others, you are in danger, or you are on disciplinary lockdown.

But hats off to the guard — usually at 3 am one wouldn’t think to look for strange sleeping patterns like not moving all that much on a bunk — especially in a semi-dark cell with a blanket pulled over someone.

As long as Law Enforcement is allowed to run jails without outside oversight this type of thing will continue.

I am of the opinion that we have our penal system backwords; those that have been convicted of a crime(s) and sent to prison are better treated and monitered than those who have yet to be convicted. Every measure should be considered and implemented that assures the safety of these ACCUSED individuals, up to and including 24 hour monitered video surveillance covering every nook-and-cranny of the facility, including cells! It won’t happen though; too many of those who wear those badges don’t want anyone to know what really goes on inside those walls while the general public has all but forgotten that those inside these fcilities have yet to be convicted of anything (yes, some are just awaiting a transfer to prison) and really don’t care.

These type of incidents show the cultural “reactive nature” this country seems to embrace at the cost of many lives and limbs. Is being ‘pro-active” too expensive? Only if you hold no value in life…..

There are limits to what we can do — both in terms of cost and in terms of respectful treatment of those in jail — to prevent suicides. If the Sheriff’s Office made a competent, good-faith effort to screen Turner for suicidal tendencies and if their night patrol was doing their job and did not see any evidence of suicide, this is just an unfortunate case of $hit Happens. You can’t stop someone determined to kill themselves if they hide that tendency and have reasonable intelligence.

That said, they might want to wait to give out razors in situations like this until the morning of the court appearance.

I would like to see a truly independent citizens oversight board for all LEO-citizen conflicts just to make sure the LEO’s aren’t tempted to cut corners or engage in unlawful behaviors knowing that they can get away with it because any investigators are “on their side.” Unless the claims made in the article are significantly slanted however, I doubt that it would matter in this case.

It’s funny how you speak of “limits”… If it was a member of your family or a friend I wonder if those “limits” wouldn’t be a little more stringent than what you see as being acceptable now? I wonder if the “good faith effort” you speak of would have been sufficient if it was your son or father found dead?

I’ve been in SLO County Jail, twice, awaiting transport back to prison on violations of my parole, it was by far the “best” county jail I’ve ever had the “pleasure” of being a “guest” of. This was over 20 years ago and things do change…

I stand by what I say, and it’s a point made by direct first hand knowledge; now how many of you out there in CalCoastNews land can say the same? I would venture a guess at not many. I would venture another guess that not many would give my comment any validity at all knowing that I was just another persumed guilty until proven innocent untouchable that deserved anything I got in the way of treatment while incarcerated. Right? You look for solutions (maybe?) to a problem you have no first hand knowledge of all the while ignoring those who do. Very typical, and so f***ing ignorant as not to be funny.

I’ve been beaten unconscious by custody staff (county sheriff deputies) for no good reason (I was accused of smoking in an area where it wasn’t allowed and I’ve never smoked). Seven of them beat me for over 15 minutes, then took me to the “hole” stripped me naked and put me on a bare cement floor for five days. I was denied any medical attention and was continually harassed by other deputies so my sleep would come in 15 or 20 minute “spurts”. My attorney came to visit me and after seeing my condition went to the Presiding Superior Court Judge and obtained a court order to have me transported to the county hospital for diagnosis and treatment. The court order was ignored and absolutley nothing was done about it! When I got to prison I had to have surgery on a dislocated shoulder from that beating, a dislocated shoulder I had been living with for over 3 months! That county jail was later investigated by the Justice Department and was found to be either directly or indirectly culpable in many deaths that occured within its confines in past years (while the exact number escapes me it I do remember it was over 20).

This county jail is still rife with this type of activity. They still have no oversight, no accoutability! Can you venture a guess as to why? Here, let me help, because I do…. It’s because the general public just doesn’t give a shit!

I know, my idea is stupid anyway, right? No really, it is! It has to be! We’ve had taped beatings perpetrated by law enforcement and they’ve walked. We’ve seen people shot by law enforcement for no good reason and no one was held accountable. It’s currently all over the news and still no one within the “main stream” gives one shit…

Mr. Turner died while under the care of SLO County and every effort should be made to not only expalin how it happened but to insure it doesn’t happen with anyone else in the future. A simple task? No! But I don’t give one shit how hard it is or how much it costs as the eventual cost OF LIFE is far more expensive, and IMPORTANT, that any difficulty or cost it would incur.

RamsFan….why do you keep violating your parole????

I don’t care how you are treated in prison/jail. If the guards/officers need to use force to keep everyone in line, more power to them. It’s prison, not Club Med.

Wow! At least you’re honest about your stupidity…

Let me respond in like manner… I don’t keep violating my parole, as a matter of fact I was disharged from parole for the final time in 1999, lame! I was speaking in the past tense when my maturity level was only matched in length by the finger I would be flashing at you if we were in the same room.

Back then people like you pissed me off, today? Not so much. One of the reasons why? I’ve found I can bang out all of my anger on this here keyboard rather than on some animated object’s supposed brain enclosure. It gets some of the same results too, while keeping the bruising to your ego and my fingertips.

But again where a person cannot address the topic with any informed opinion or comment they attack the messenger. Law enforcement in the context of their job(s) are not only morally and legally bound to “protect and serve” the victim, they are also bound by those same morals and laws to protect the accused, especially those who are incarcerated and are directly dependant on thier protection.

Remember one other thing there Mr. slojo, this whole topic/discussion was on an ACCUSED individual not yet found guilty of anything, not about those convicted and sentenced….

I don’t doubt that your experiences were nasty and that those sort of things happen far too often in some places. I don’t assume that everyone in jail is guilty — even if they have been sentenced — and they should be treated with all respect possible within the limits of safety. That is why I ended my comment stating that a citizen’s oversight board would be a good thing.

However, I also know that there is no 100% guarantee that anyone can prevent a person committed to suicide from doing so if they are not obviously inclined that way. What are you going to do? Treat EVERYONE in jail as a high risk for suicide? Put them all in solitary in a padded cell? The closer you get to perfection in preventing suicide, the more you must infringe on the dignity and freedom of others to get there.

I am sorry for the loss but there are trade offs in this just as there are in life in general. I don’t want my freedom and dignity severely compromised to insure someone else’ safety — or even my own. Your values may differ and you are as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. But I will fight if you or anyone else that devalues my freedom for the illusion of safety.

Just one question: How can anything I stated devalue your freedom or safety? How would it compromise your dignity? These folks are locked away from you and pose no immediate threat to anyone (other than those locked up with them and those custody officers/deputies charged with their care).

Dignity is all but lost in jail and or prison; no, that’s not accurate! It’s taken from you the moment you enter booking (jail) and or receiving & release (prison)! The moment you are told to strip naked, bend over and spread your cheaks and cough then turn around and lift your *** sack while everyone in the room watches (including female staff) any thought of keeping your dignity, let alone a need for it, is absolutely gone! It stows away with any thought of anything you’re in store for will be fair, based on reason, has any redeaming quailities or is meant to either correct or rehabilitate you, and goes out the same window your dignity made its escape from.

The last time I was in SLO County Jail everyone was single celled. The “tank” or “pod” I was in was and I was told all were. I don’t know about now. But what does that matter? There’s absolutely no privacy built in or found in those buildings anyway, none! Your door has a window the size of Kansas on it, your lights are only dimmed at night and never completely off, you shower in the “day room” with a half wall blocking the view of your lower extremities only from the world. The only thing a “celly” would bring is someone to talk with and another like jailed individual that will laugh off all the indiginities you’ll both suffer.

I also remember that during your first 48 hours in custody at the SLO County Jail you were locked down (kept in your cell) and monitered by a visual inspection of you and your cell by custody staff on a very regular basis (I don’t remember the exact time frame used), all your meals were hand delivered by custody staff where they checked on your psychological condition by engaging you in conversation and asking how you were adjusting. I remember that so well because one of those custody staff noticed my obvious depression and notified the medical staff and I was in front of a Psych’ within hours (Yea, I was depressed! I hadn’t been out a month, had just gone to work, had a truck that my employer sold to me on time and some idiot at work had an issue with me and took a swing at me. I protected myself VIGOROUSLY. My parole officer was contacted and I was violated. I spent a year back in prison).

This is not “general life” we are discussing here! It really isn’t! This is how far the “general public” is removed from understanding any of this. And if you think the same type of trade offs” that arrise in “general life” apply to jail/prison life? You’d be way wrong.

Look! I did what I did. I was tried and convicted. I did my time. I lost almost twenty years of my life due to my own inabilities to conform and recognize the law as something that applied to me. But what I didn’t sign up for, nor was I sentenced to, was the certain fact that whatever time I did would pail in comparison to the lifetime of distrust, indignation, empathy, disrespect, disenfranchisement and distrust I was unwittingly sentenced to. I have also learned that no matter the time, effort or sacrifices I’ve made to correct myself it will never be enough to earn your respect let alone your forgiveness. I stopped trying. Now the only thing I worry about is the face looking back at me in the mirror every morning. The rest of you can f**k off….

Mr. Holt, one more thing….

The best deterant to suicide in jail is your cell mate. Isolation, for some, is the tipping point that leads to taking there own life. Mr. Turner could well be alive today if he would have had a cell mate; I know for a fact he would have had better chance of it….

One would think that there would have been a significant amount of blood present when he was checked. Perhaps the protocol should be that a deputy must monitor the inmate while shaving and immediately take back possession of the razor.

There certainly are some questions. The jail personnel started noticing something Tuesday at 3:07am, when did they give the inmate the razor?, they say Monday at when? Monday morning? and why did they not require it to be given back in a reasonable time, say an hour? There just seems to be many problems in procedures and one big question, How many people have to die before Sheriff Parkinson admits there is a problem with his staff? it seems always at least one more. As always the last question how much will this cost the taxpayers without any responsibility being required from the Sheriff, his budget or personnel?