April 07, 2020
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Maine State Prison inmate found hanging from sprinkler

WARREN – A 25-year-old inmate serving a 17-month sentence at Maine State Prison was found hanging in his cell Thursday night from a bedsheet tied to a sprinkler head, Warden Jeffrey Merrill said Friday.

The identity of the prisoner was not being released, pending notification of his death to family members, Merrill said.

The prisoner was housed in a single cell in the special management unit, where he was placed because he was classified as a high risk inmate based on his institutional behavior, Merrill said. The inmate was not on a suicide watch, the warden said, but he was on a 30-minute check status because of his classification.

At about 11 p.m., the prisoner was fine when staff made rounds, Merrill said. At 11:31 p.m., the inmate was found hanging, he said.

Staff used a special tool to cut the sheet, and CPR immediately was used by security staff and a medical team to attempt to resuscitate the inmate. He was pronounced dead at the prison.

Maine State Police were contacted, per protocol, to investigate, Merrill said, and the body was taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

The inmate had served about one year of a 17-month sentence for multiple burglaries and criminal mischief, Merrill said, adding that although the prisoner had prior “run-ins” with law enforcement, he knew of no previous long periods of incarceration.

“All initial indications are it was a suicide,” Merrill said.

This is the second time since the new prison opened in 2002 in Warren that there has been a suicide, he said.

A mental health team is meeting with staff and prisoners, he said, to help deal with the stresses associated with such tragedies.

“The staff responded extremely well,” Merrill said.


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