Ohio guards did not check on death row inmate who hanged himself -report

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 16, 2013 8:03 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - An Ohio prison guard failed to check every 30 minutes on an inmate who hanged himself on death row last month, and another corrections officer falsified reporting logs to cover up the neglect, an official report said on Monday.

Billy Slagle was found hanged in his cell on August 4 at Chillicothe Correctional Institution, Ohio's death row, three days before he was scheduled to be executed.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction put on administrative leave officer Clay Putman, who failed to check on Slagle every 30 minutes as required, and John McCollister, for falsifying the electronic log that documented how often rounds were completed, the agency said in a report released on Monday.

Slagle was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1987 murder and robbery of Mari Ann Pope in Cleveland. According to court documents, Pope was stabbed 17 times with a pair of scissors by Slagle in front of the two children she was babysitting.

Investigators used video surveillance to determine that Putnam was late in his rounds the night before Slagle was found and only checked on Slagle every hour.

The report said the Ohio State Highway Patrol plans to bring criminal charges against Putnam and McCollister.

The release of the report about Slagle's death follows the announcement last week that two other Ohio correctional officers were placed on paid leave after Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro was found hanged on September 4 in a prison at Orient, Ohio.

Castro, a former Cleveland school bus driver, was one month into a life sentence for the decade-long imprisonment of three Cleveland women. Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts in July, including the hundreds of charges for the kidnapping, rape and assault of Michelle Knight, 32, Amanda Berry, 27 and Gina DeJesus, 23.

Ohio corrections is still investigating the circumstances of Castro's death, although a coroner's report said he hanged himself in his cell using a bed sheet.

Nine inmates have committed suicide in Ohio prisons, which are at 130 percent capacity, this year. Since 2000, suicide rates in Ohio prisons have remained mostly stable, generally ranging between four and eight deaths per year, according to the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee. The exceptions were 2004 and 2007, which each had 11.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Greg McCune and Jim Marshall)