Another Jail Suicide Leaves Family With Questions - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Another Jail Suicide Leaves Family With Questions

"We need answers. That's all I want, answers. I feel like, if it was your nephew, your son, you'd want answers," Tonya Smith said.

Robert James Smith's family says, he was not the kind of young man, who would take his own life.

"He was too happy of a fellow. Every time you see him, he was smiling, you know. He didn't have a reason. He had too much to live for," Smith's father Morris Woods said.

His family describes Smith, a student at East Central High, as a happy young man. They say he was about to bond out of jail Friday, the same afternoon police reports say Smith hung himself in his cell.

"We haven't seen an autopsy report. We don't even know how the death occurred. All we know is what's been reported, and those reports are conflicting," Jackson County NAACP President Curley Clark said.

That's why Smith's family is asking the ACLU and the NAACP for help. This is the first time the three sides have met.

"You have procedures and you fail to follow those procedures, you leave yourself suspect to allegations and uncertainties. That appears to be the case here," Clark said.

"The right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment is one of the issues we look into. This can be one of those issues, we just don't know yet," Mississippi ACLU director Nsombi Lambright said.

Clark says the ultimate goal is to ensure that inmates are safe in jail.

"These are the type of issues we're going to continue to raise so people don't have to fear for their lives when they're incarcerated," Clark said.

As for Smith's family, they remain baffled by his death.

"I don't want to accuse nobody wrongly or nothing, but it don't add up. It really doesn't," Woods said.

The police report indicates a jailer was talking with Smith only 15 minutes before he was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell. 

Pascagoula Police Lieutenant Paul Leonard says his department stands by the facts of the investigation.

By Keli Rabon

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