‘Devastated’ mother wants changes after son commits suicide at Middletown Jail

No one saw signs that a 39-year-old Hamilton man may commit suicide last month when he was in the Middletown City Jail on bench warrant for failure to appear on drug charges, said Maj. Leanne Hood from the Middletown Division of Police.

Hood said Ryan L. Holland gave “no indication” he was considering taking his life, according to those who booked him into jail, the corrections officers, inmates in his block and his cellmate.

But around 1:30 p.m. on March 23, an hour after eating lunch, Holland took a bed sheet and hanged himself while his cellmate was in Middletown Municipal Court. Holland was transported to Atrium Medical Center where he never regained consciousness and he was taken off the ventilator four days later, said his mother, Tammy Holland.

An autopsy was performed by the Warren County Coroner’s Office, but results won’t be released for several weeks, officials said.

Locally, suicides are committed rarely in Butler County’s two jails: the Butler County Jail and Middletown City Jail.

On Jan. 16, 2018, Samantha Young, 21, of Cincinnati, who was in jail for a probation violation, died from hanging in the Hanover Street facility, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office. Before that, the last suicide in the county jail was July 2012.

Holland’s suicide was the first in the Middletown City Jail since 2015. That’s when Michael Linton Jr., 35, of Middletown, hanged himself with a bed sheet. Linton’s death marked the first suicide at the jail since December 2008.

In recent years, the number of suicides in corrections’ facilities has declined as authorities improved screening and prevention techniques. Still, the national rate of suicides in jail is 40 deaths per 100,000 inmates, more than three times the rate in the community at large, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Tammy Holland was “devastated” by her son’s death and said those who work in jails should take more precautions to keep inmates from committing suicide.

“There has to be something those people can do so this doesn’t happen to another family,” she told the Journal-News. “I just don’t understand how something like this can happen. When you know your son’s in jail, you think he’s safe.”

Tammy Holland said her son, a father of four and grandfather of two, was battling drug addiction, but had shown no previous suicidal tendencies.

He had been arrested in Middletown before on drug charges, according to court documents.

“Ryan was at a very low point of his life,” his mother said. “He had demons. But he shouldn’t have died. He shouldn’t have died in jail.”

Hood said the police department and jail staff does “everything within our power” to keep inmates from attempting suicide. She said all corrections officers are trained to detect inmates who may possess suicidal tendencies during the interview process.

Usually, Hood said, inmates who are suicidal are distraught by their charges, have family issues such as a child custody battle or loss of a loved one.

So they think they have “nothing to live for,” Hood said.

Those inmates are kept in a holding cell where they can be closely monitored on surveillance cameras, she said.

All inmates, regardless of their mental status, are checked every hour at different times, according to state mandates, Hood said. During those walk-by checks, the corrections officers must see “signs of life” such as breathing or moving in bed from each inmate, she said.

Cameras are located in every cell block, but not in every cell, Hood said. There are 32 cells in the City Jail and each cell holds two inmates.

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