Sheriff: suicide unpreventable
“The basic message is that there was nothing we could have done,” said Sheriff Bob Braudis, summating the circumstances of Monday’s first-ever suicide at the Pitkin County Jail.
“There was no evidence of despondency, depression, or self-destruction,” Braudis said. “There were many factors that indicated that he was fairly stable. The guy had a lot of gym time and he was really in shape. That’s positive behavior.”
Michael Bolton, 51, convicted in May of embezzling some $200,000 from the Roaring Fork Club in Basalt, was found dead less than an hour before he was scheduled to appear in district court for sentencing. He faced a maximum of 24 years in prison.
Bolton reportedly affixed a strip of cloth cut from a towel to hang himself from a rack inside his cell.
Investigator Ed Piccolo of the district attorney’s office looked into the incident, to prevent the potential for a conflict of interest with a sheriff’s office investigation. The sheriff oversees the jail operation.
Piccolo said yesterday that hanging was the cause of death, based on the results of an autopsy performed on Bolton’s body Tuesday. “Ed’s job was to basically eliminate or confirm criminal involvement in the death,” Braudis said.
“I know that we have the best jail staff in the country, probably on the planet, and we know we’ve saved a lot of lives over the years by responding to depression and other indicators, and bringing in counselors and putting those inmates in visible areas,” the sheriff said. “Part of my knowledge that we have the best jail staff is their compassion, their interaction with the inmates – it’s called direct supervision – and their individual and collective dedication to the humanitarian approach to incarceration.”
Braudis termed Bolton’s suicide as “sad and tragic,” and said, “we are all affected by an in-custody death.
“The other reality is that if somebody is totally committed to suicide, they will probably succeed,” he said. “Other than the in-custody uniqueness of this, we’ve seen a lot of suicides over the years on the patrol side of things, and if someone wants to do it, they can. Obviously though if someone would rather die than live, they can see to it.”
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