Another death by suicide at Eagle County jail, investigation ongoing |

Another death by suicide at Eagle County jail, investigation ongoing

The entrance of the Eagle County Detention Center in Eagle. Numerous deaths by suicide have occurred at the jail in recent years.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily archive

A man who was in custody at the Eagle County detention facility appears to have died by suicide on April 13, authorities have confirmed.

Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said the case is being reviewed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Lisa Kohlbrenner, a public information officer with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said while the investigation is still active, all indications point to suicide.

The Eagle County detention facility has seen at least three death-by-suicide incidents since 2019. Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek discussed two deaths by suicide at the Eagle County jail in a September 2019 column in the Vail Daily.

“There has been a rise in suicides across Eagle County, and we were shocked when two occurred in our jail this month,” Van Beek wrote in September 2019. “There are many factors to consider in running a detention facility. There is a balance between measuring someone’s tendency towards self-harm and their right of privacy. During incarceration, people still deserve respect.

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“There is a continual need to establish a balance between securing the jail from any implements which might be used for self-harm, and consideration that even while in detention, it is thoughtful to include such comforts as sheets and certain items of clothing to maintain a degree of normalcy, which is an important element in the rehabilitation process. As with many law enforcement agencies across the country, we are always seeking new approaches.”

Van Beek cited a report from the Marshall Project which examined the differences between jails — which temporarily house people who are awaiting trial or sentencing — and prisons, which house people who have been convicted of a crime.

“Although jails have improved their intake protocols over the past several decades, these protocols remain far less robust than in state prisons,” according to the report. “Prisons are more likely to have their policies scrutinized by an accreditor like the American Correctional Association.”

Van Beek is out of the office until April 27 and was unable to comment on this most recent incident. Undersheriff Dan Loya, on Wednesday, said he is also unable to comment due to the fact that the investigation is currently ongoing.

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