DEAR EDITOR:

I am writing with the hope of sharing with our community some insight into the deaths of inmates that had been custody at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center during 2019. It is important for your readers to recognize that the detention center receives over 25,000 inmate admissions per year and we typically have an inmate population of around 2,100 inmates. In 2018, 21,915 inmates were seen by a physician or mid-level care provider, 1,482 were seen by a dentist and 20,522 were seen by mental health personnel. Health care in the jail is a massive undertaking.

Within any segment of the population, you will encounter people with preexisting health conditions. Often those who come through our doors have spent the majority of their lifetime making decisions that adversely impact their physical well-being and have also avoided physician contact for years due to these decisions and lifestyle choices. Having seen firsthand the number of people brought to our detention center in poor physical or mental health, it remains an ongoing concern of mine. We contract with WellStar Health Systems to provide onsite medical services, which is the same level of care you and your family would experience at one of their local facilities. Inmate health and safety is a responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office that we take with great seriousness.

We provide initial screens as well as ongoing care to those in our custody. Sadly, there are times where an inmate’s physical condition at the time of their arrest has already progressed to a dangerous and possibly irreversible level. Even with the best medical care and around-the-clock monitoring, there are conditions that even with immediate medical intervention occur too late to be impactful. The sheriff’s office makes every effort to keep the families of gravely ill inmates informed of their condition as well as bring them together at the hospital whenever possible.

In 2019 there were six inmates that had been in our custody prior to their deaths. 31-year-old Jesse Myles was arrested by Marietta PD for drug possession and ingested a lethal amount of cocaine prior to being brought into the detention center. Emory Bradley, a 33-year-old charged with possession of methamphetamine, had been in custody just over 3 months when he committed suicide by hanging.

The deaths of 37-year-old Steven Davis, 63-year-old William Kocour, 36-year-old Kevil Wingo and 45-year-old Chris Hart remain under investigation. In each of these cases, preexisting medical conditions appear to be primary factors in their deaths. The Cobb Medical Examiner’s Office is doing a thorough review of each death and once completed, the reports will be available to the public.

Our staff at the detention center is doing an admirable job day in and day out, yet we live in a time where dangerous drugs, lifestyle decisions and mental health are proving to be major factors in not only the quality of life, but the length of life as well.

Neil Warren

Cobb County sheriff

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