Jamycheal Mitchell, nicknamed Wezzy (as spelled according to his Facebook profile, not his obituary), was a 24-year-old man with a history of mental illness who was close with his family. According to The Guardian, Mitchell was arrested on April 22 for allegedly stealing $5 worth of items (a Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake) from a 7-Eleven in Portsmouth, Va. After being held since April without bail, Mitchell was found dead in his jail cell on the morning of August 19.
Wait, why in the heck was he in jail for so long for a misdemeanor?
Yeah, that is one of the same questions everyone is asking. Apparently, the reason Mitchell stayed in jail so long was because a judge ruled he was not competent to stand trial and was ordered to be transferred to a state-run mental health facility, Eastern State hospital, in Williamsburg, for treatment.
According to prison officials, the hospital had no open beds, so Mitchell was left in jail as his condition declined rapidly. His poor aunt, Roxanne Adams, did everything she could to help, but to no avail.
He was just deteriorating so fast,” she said. “I kept calling the jail, but they said they couldn’t transfer him because there were no available beds. So I called Eastern State, too, and people there said they didn’t know anything about the request or not having bed availability.
This young man fell through the proverbial cracks. His family says Mitchell was refusing to eat or take his medications and no one did anything about it. According to Adams, when she last saw him in court he looked emaciated and she estimates his weight loss at around 65 pounds. When The Guardian attempted to figure out who should have been accountable for his hospitalization, the questioned officials came up short:
When asked which state agency was ultimately responsible for ensuring Mitchell was transferred to the hospital, the court clerk said: “It’s hard to tell who’s responsible for it.
Why was Jamycheal Mitchell not granted bail?
This is the other question everyone is asking. The answer again is basically more shrugging by officials and refusal to take accountability.
Officials from the court, the police department and the jail could not explain why Mitchell was not given the opportunity to be released on bail.
To sum it up: the answers given by the city, police and jail officials only leave more questions than answers. At this time, Mitchell’s death is not being treated as suspicious and although there still has been no autopsy, it is currently being deemed as a result of “natural causes.”
This makes seven minority, mostly black, individuals found dead in their jail cell within two months. It needs to stop now.
Many Americans are getting sick and tired of people, predominately black people, turning up dead in jail. In July 2015 alone, six minority women were found dead in jail. Let’s say their names – Raynetta Turner, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, Joyce Curnell, Ralkina Jones and now Jamycheal Mitchell should not be dead. Whether from police brutality, lack of medication, lack of proper medical attention or suicide – how hard can it be to keep someone alive in what is basically a small cage?
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