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Texas Firing 7 Prison Employees After 16-Year-Old Commits Suicide

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is moving to fire seven employees for failing to check on a 16-year-old boy who died by suicide last month, the Texas Tribune reports. Despite a long history of suicidal behavior in youth facilities, Joshua Keith Beasley Jr. had been transferred to the adult prison system. He was pronounced dead shortly after being found unresponsive in his cell on March 24 with a sheet tied around his neck, according to TDCJ spokesperson Jason Clark. Clark confirmed the agency has recommended dismissing five officers, one sergeant and one lieutenant at the Wayne Scott Unit, the psychiatric prison where Beasley died. The employees failed to “follow policy in conducting appropriate checks,” Clark said. TDCJ’s suicide prevention policy requires cell checks on prisoners deemed a suicide risk at least every 15 minutes.

“During our investigation, it was determined that there was an unacceptable level of complacency, and those checks weren’t happening as they should,” Clark said Tuesday. As of early this month, the employees are no longer working but are still able to challenge the dismissals, Clark said. Beasley had been sent to the adult prison system’s Youthful Offender Program in September, transferred from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department after being charged with crimes during his incarceration there. The teen had been incarcerated almost continuously since he was 11, first sent to the state juvenile corrections agency after kicking a school safety officer while on probation for vandalism. During the height of the pandemic, when visitation was halted, Beasley began to hurt himself. By August, he'd been hospitalized 12 times after severely harming himself.


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