Lawsuit: Kane County jail suicide rate more than triple national average

 
 

A lawsuit seeking damages for a 52-year-old South Elgin woman's 2013 suicide at the Kane County jail argues the jail has a suicide rate three times the national average, yet no jail employees have faced any discipline.

The lawsuit filed by the daughter of Terry Ann Hart, who hung herself in August 2013, argues the jail has had three suicides and one attempt between 2012 and January.

But larger jails in Will and DuPage counties, along with DeKalb, had none from 2011 through 2015, according to the lawsuit, which cites data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice. Lake County had one suicide from 2011 through 2015.

"The expected suicide rate for the (Kane County Adult Correctional Center), to be in line with the national average, should be no worse than one suicide every 4.5 years," argues the lawsuit, filed by Hart's daughter, Brittany Natanek. "The KCACC's rate is approaching a factor well over three times higher than the BJS data indicates as average for comparable sized jails."

The lawsuit, which names the county and Sheriff Don Kramer as defendants, argues the jail staff and Wexford Health were negligent in not providing Hart with her prescribed medication after her initial arrest and jailing in October 2012. Authorities had been called to her home because of a suicide threat.

The lawsuit also argues the staff erased computer data in an effort to cover up Hart's death. Natanek's attorney says the firm investigated computer records to reach that conclusion.

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Kane County Sheriff Department spokesman Lt. Pat Gengler declined to comment on the case Monday.

Before Hart's death, Keith Renfroe Jr., a 20-year-old from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, who recently moved to Gilberts, strangled himself in a cell in June 2012 after an arrest and despite being on suicide watch.

Piotr Dutkiewicz, 51, of Elgin, hung himself on Jan. 5, after asking to use the restroom while being booked in an arrest.

"It's an unfortunate event, but we're going to do everything within our power to make sure that doesn't happen again," Kramer said after Dutkiewicz' death.

In all three cases, Kramer, or then-Sheriff Pat Perez, concluded the jail staff did not violate any policies or procedures.

The lawsuit is next due in court on April 27 and seeks unspecified damages.

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