Sheriff: Inmate died of heart attack in Calhoun County Jail
by Rachael Brown
rbrown@annistonstar.com
Jul 23, 2013 | 6617 views |  0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A 59-year-old inmate in the Calhoun County Jail died of a heart attack Friday, officials said today.

Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson said the inmate’s name had not been released because his family had not been contacted as of this afternoon. The Calhoun County Coroner’s Office was in charge of finding the man’s family, Amerson said.

Pat Brown, Calhoun County Coroner, said officials still had not located the man’s family this evening.

Brown said the man died of a blood clot in his heart, and that death was immediate.

Amerson said he received an autopsy report Monday from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences that confirmed what Brown said.

The inmate had been exhibiting bizarre behavior at the jail, Amerson said, and was in the detoxification cell with another inmate Thursday night.

The inmate went to sleep that night, Amerson said, and the next morning he was found dead by jail personnel.

Amerson said when the 59-year-old man was booked into the Calhoun County Jail in May on felony first-degree criminal mischief charges, a list of the man’s medical history was provided to jail staff. According to the man’s history, he had a heart condition and had been treated for a mental illness, Amerson said.

A medical review was done, as is customary for new inmates, and the man told medical staff that he did not have a heart condition and refused to take medication for his mental illness, because of the way it made him feel, the sheriff said.

Amerson said the man never complained of chest pain, but had previously told medical staff he had a sore ear and sore elbow, for which he received anti-inflammatory medication.

Amerson said the jail’s on-call medical staff, a nurse practitioner and licensed practical nurse, is overseen by the Calhoun County Commission.

Attempts today to reach Faye Robertson, assistant county administrator, were unsuccessful.

Inmates who request routine medical assistance, Amerson said, usually are assessed by medical workers the following day. If further care is needed, he said, jail staff make a doctor’s appointment for the inmate.

Amerson said if an inmate has a medical emergency, the jail’s policy is to call emergency medical services.

The sheriff said an influx of people with mental problems are being incarcerated across the country, which he described as a growing problem for jails.

“The sad truth is that these people need to be in a place where they can receive treatment for the issues that they have,” Amerson said. “We’re not equipped for it.”

Amerson said he didn’t know what type of mental illness the man had, but the sheriff said he “could tell there was a problem.”

Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.

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