U.S. News


Veteran Dies From Extreme Heat In Jail Cell

The New York Department of Corrections is looking into the death of an inmate who was reportedly exposed to unusually high temperatures in his cell.
Posted at 7:46 PM, Mar 19, 2014

A New York family is looking for answers from the Department of Corrections after discovering their loved one might've died from unusually high temperatures in his jail cell. 

"It happened last month at Rikers Island jail. Family members say 56-year-old Jerome Murdough was mentally ill. He's seen here in older pictures." (Via WABC)

The original report from the Associated Press says Murdough, a former Marine, was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medications. He was arrested for trespassing a little more than a month ago and was put in an observation unit for people with mental illnesses at Rikers Island.

The prison's staff was reportedly supposed to check on Murdough every 15 minutes, but he wasn't checked on for four hours and was found dead in his cell Feb. 14. (Via Flickr / Jenn Vargas)

"Sources tell the AP he died in his cell which was overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently due to an equipment problem." (Via NY1)

What's worse is that Murdough's family reportedly didn't learn he had died until weeks later and didn't find out how he died until just last week. 


"A dog deserves better than how he died. ... I have no faith in the system." (Via WNBC)

Murdough's 75-year-old mother questioned whether her son should've been jailed in the first place. The New York Times raises the same point, saying, "Those who present little or no danger to the public ... belong in psychiatric care instead of jails, where they are at greater risk of suicide and other forms of harm, primarily because the corrections staff is ill-equipped to care for them."

A separate Times article quotes a professor of psychiatry who says correctional facilities, including Rikers, have a bad history with mentally ill people, often placing them in solitary confinement. 

WNBC obtained a release from New York's Department of Corrections that says it's looking into the mechanical issue that might've led to Murdough's death while further investigating the incident.