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Home > Research Articles > Inmates Feel the Holiday Blues


Friday, December 13, 2002

by Jessica Cervantez

During this time of the year, many people suffer from the holiday blues. The season can also have that affect on people behind bars. A new study shows that inmates are more likely to commit suicide in county jails than in the state prison.

No matter whether it is a state or county unit, administrators have to deal with suicidal inmates. County jails see it more often, since that is where inmates are initially locked up.

Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss said, "Often times, when people first go to jail they are in depression, but by the time they go to the state prison they have had time to work through their depressed states."

This is exactly why jail administrators keep a close eye on inmates during the holiday season.

Sergeant Margie Villanueva, a jail supervisor, said, "Especially now with the holidays everybody is depressed and misses home. No matter what the inmates did that got them here, they are still human and still feel bad or remorse."

One inmate keeps himself busy to keep from feeling lonely.

Kevin Moore said, "I read a lot and work a lot. That way I do not think about each minute, each hour, and each day; it goes by a little faster."

Sheriff Kerss knows the holidays can bring on depression, that is why he does what he can to make it a little better.

Kerss said, "We allow more inmate visitation during this time then what the jails are required to give. We also let ministerial groups come in and hold religious programs during the season."

Unfortunately, inmates who attempt suicide are locked in a block, called the violent room. That way jailers can keep a closer watch.

Villanueva said, "It is a rough time, it is a rough time for everybody, especially the inmates. After 12 hours we leave, they stay."

Records show 32% of all 63 Texas county jail deaths reported in 2001 were suicides, 20 in all