Charles Co. Sheriff's Reports: Woman Found Dead in Cell

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LA PLATA, Md. (June 3, 2016)—The Charles County Sheriff's Office today released the following incident reports.

DEATH INVESTIGATION: On June 2 at 11:35 p.m., Corrections Officers at the Charles County Detention Center entered the cell of a 30-year-old woman to escort her to a routine medical screening when they observed her lying on a mattress and unresponsive. Officers, along with medical staff and EMS, immediately initiated life-saving measures to include CPR and activation of an AED; however, the woman was pronounced deceased. In accordance with agency operating standards, detectives assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division responded. A preliminarily investigation revealed the woman was inside her cell, with a cellmate, and lying on a mattress with her face down. According to witnesses, it appeared the woman had been sleeping. There were no signs of trauma, no signs of foul play, and no signs of a suicide. A Forensic Investigator responded and the woman was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore where an autopsy will be performed. The investigation is continuing.

CORRECTIONS OFFICERS RESCUE INMATE ATTEMPTING SUICIDE: On May 19 at 5 p.m., a Charles County Correctional Officer was conducting a security round when he discovered a 27-year-old female inmate attempting suicide by hanging. The officer called for immediate help, and he and responding officers lowered the woman and accessed her condition. At the time, the woman was not breathing. Officers began CPR, and the inmate began to breathe on her own. She was flown to a hospital where she was initially admitted in critical condition. In accordance with operating standards, investigators assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division responded. A preliminary investigation revealed the inmate was in her cell alone and had earlier in the day made comments to other inmates that she wanted to go to the hospital instead of being incarcerated. None of the inmates reported the comments to detention center staff. The woman had been arrested four days earlier for violating her probation. Since the incident, the woman's health has improved and her condition is no longer life-threatening. The investigation is continuing.

CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SENTENCED TO 90 DAYS IN JAIL AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO HAVING UNLAWFUL SEXUAL CONTACT WITH INMATE: On June 1, Jason Arnold—a suspended Correctional Officer at the Charles County Detention Center (CCDC)—was sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to having unlawful sexual contact with a female inmate. The charge stemmed from an intensive investigation led by detectives assigned to the CCSO's Criminal Investigations Division and the CCSO's Office of Professional Responsibility. The investigation was initiated after command personnel were made aware of a rumor of inappropriate conduct between an inmate and Arnold.

The investigation revealed that in July 2015, a supervisor at the CCDC learned from a third-hand party about a possible relationship between Arnold and the inmate. Upon learning of the allegation, Arnold was immediately suspended. The State's Attorney's Office was contacted and detectives launched both a criminal and internal investigation, which revealed Arnold and the inmate had a relationship while she was incarcerated. Further, the investigation revealed that the relationship briefly continued after the inmate was released from the detention center. As part of the investigation, detectives reached out to other inmates who had contact with Arnold and determined no one else had unlawful relations with him. Arnold was criminally charged on March 2, 2016, with having unlawful sex with an inmate. In Maryland, it is a misdemeanor for a correctional officer to have a sexual relationship with an inmate.

Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry stated, "Trust is such an important factor between law enforcement and our community. When we heard about this rumor, our staff took immediate actions to investigate the allegations, even though a complaint was never made. It took months of hard work to thoroughly interview all of the female inmates who had contact with Arnold to ensure no other unlawful sexual contact had occurred. Arnold broke the trust that our community places in our correctional officers, and he broke the trust of his fellow officers. For this, Arnold being sentenced to a period of incarceration is justice served."

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