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Lawsuit filed over suicide at Blair’s jail

Inmate’s wife claims authorities failed to follow procedure
and monitor husband
By Phil Ray
JOHNSTOWN — The wife of a man who committed suicide while incarcerated at Blair County Prison has filed a federal lawsuit contending that jail authorities violated procedures by not placing him on suicide watch. Jeremy Shane Corbin, 32, of Bellwood used a bedsheet to hang himself in his cell in October.

At the time, the jail contained 313 inmates, and some were housed in the gymnasium.  Corbin was in jail on an allegation that he violated a protection-fromabuse order issued Oct. 9.  County officials said Corbin was upset because he couldn’t see his children because of the PFA order.  According to the lawsuit, Corbin told sheriff’s deputies transporting him to a hearing that he was suicidal, the lawsuit stated.

Corbin was screened upon entering jail, and the conclusion was that he “presented a significant suicide risk, both in fact and ccording to the prison’s guidelines — that he had a particular vulnerability to suicide,” the lawsuit claims.

Corbin “showed signs of depression, appeared to be unusually embarrassed or ashamed, was acting or talking in a strange manner, was apparently under the influence of alcohol, had a history of bipolar/ schizophrenia, had previously attempted suicide and was thinking about killing himself,” the lawsuit states.

Commissioner Terry Wagner, chairman of the county prison board, said his office has not been served with the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Johnstown.

He said the county would send the suit to its insurance carrier; otherwise, he would have no comment on the civil charges.  Wagner said the county likely faces a second lawsuit from a more recent suicide.

Blair County has been put “on notice” about a lawsuit by an attorney representing the family of Nathan J. Aughenbaugh of Morrisdale, who hung himself June 21. No suit has been filed on behalf of Aughenbaugh, who was incarcerated on a probation violation.  Corbin’s wife, Kayci Lynn Tatsch-Corbin of Bellwood, is represented by attorneys Andrew Shubin and Jere Krakoff, both of State College, and George N. Zanic and Thomas K. Hooper of Duncansville.

Donald Ott, who was warden at the time of Corbin’s suicide, said last year that jail officials followed protocol when processing Corbin. According to the lawsuit, despite the screening and many signs that Corbin was an inmate capable of killing himself, he was not placed on suicide watch and was not assessed by a mental health professional.

He was placed in a general population area, “a much less supervised setting that did not involve close suicide prevention onitoring,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit does not request a specific amount of money but asks for compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.