The recorded interviews were obtained by KPNX-TV, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, which has spent much of the past year digging into the suicide of Anthony Clayton Lester, 26, in July 2010.
The station reports that Lester, who was serving a 12-year sentence for aggravated assault, had a long history of mentally illness and had tried to kill himself the previous month. But he was taken off his medications and was removed from a suicide watch two days before his death.
When he was returned to the general prison population, he was issued a standard prison hygiene kit that included a razor — which he used to slit his throat, wrists and groin.
Investigators' interviews with responding officers, aired this week by KPNX, recorded one officer saying he held back from assisting Lester because he didn't want to have to "wallow" in the sheer amount of blood in the cell.
In another recording, an officer is asked about correctional staffers' first aid training. His response: "I had first aid, but I don't consider it as first aid training."
Watch the two-part report by Wendy Halloran of KPNX:
PART I Failure to Aid
PART II Failure to Aid
Donna Leone Hamm, Judge (Retired)
First and Foremost I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Wendy Halloran and Channel 12 KPNX News in Phoenix, Az for their excellence in journalistic skills in exposing this horrific tragedy that happened last July 11, 2010, when a severe mentally-ill inmate whose mental health needs were totally disregarded and he was regarded as a manipulator , gaimer of the system; even though his court appointed psychiatrists and sentencing judge highly recommended he be placed in menrtal health unit. Wendy Halloran and channel 12 KPNX news have worked tenaciously for a year to expose the deplorable treatment of the mentally-ill within the ADOC. It is through channel 12 KPNX and Wendy Halloran that these most vulnerable inmates now have a voice that is now heard. Her report exposed the sheer travesty that exists within the ADOC not only on ground level but throughout the whole system especially on the adminstrative level. It is not only alarming , but appalling how the Department itself has so little regard for human life with absolutely no respect for life what so ever. We captured the world's most inhumane individual Osama Bin Laden; then why is it then, that we have a department head that has so little regard for human decency; for so little regard for humanity. Perhaps now through MSNBC bringing such light to such a travesty; that such a change may erect out of such a horrific tragedy. Perhaps now our Department of Justice may become aware of such violations of civil rights that they may open an investigation into the ADOC. It is time that we stop living in the dark ages and start humanizing our mentally-ill prisoners and send a message that their lives matter!!!! If we can just save just one life than our Beloved Tony's Voice will have been heard and his death will not be in vain. Again Much Gratitude to MSNBC for taking Wendy Halloran's and Channel 12 KPNX MAGNIFICENT investigative report to a national level,perhaps now lives will be saved. May God Bless You MSNBC and Wendy Halloran, Channel 12 KPNX for their excellence in journalistic skills. Patti Jones
In this case there was more deliberate indifference. Classification allowed this mentally unstable man to become a General Population inmate. The judge even made clear in the trial he was concerned for the mental instability of the individual. The inmate cried out to staff over and over for help with his mental health. Accountability need not just be on the staff who responded but on the psychology department, classification officer, warden and State Prison Director.
What happened here was a sad travesty and the only light that can come of it is the education our correctional system can gain from it. But such a thing can only happen as long as we never forget and never back off fighting to change the status quo.