A man died in the Milwaukee County Jail on Sunday, June 26 – hours after his arrest. The Waukesha County Sheriff‘s Department is investigating the death.

The 21-year-old’s death is raising concerns with some who say the death highlights lingering problems in the criminal justice system – including prison staffing and the need for more mental health resources .

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t released much information about the man. They say deputies arrested him in Bradford Beach around 4.30pm on Sunday. These included misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, carrying a concealed handgun and three counts of felony bail jumping. The man arrived at the Milwaukee County Jail shortly before 6 p.m.

Bradford Beach, Milwaukee

Sheriff officials say the man has passed medical and admission tests. He was taken to a holding cell around 6.30pm – and checked around every 30 minutes. Wisconsin law requires 60-minute intervals — and every 15 minutes for people on suicide watch.

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An hour later, at around 7:20 p.m., the sheriff’s office said the man’s suicide attempt had been discovered. Medical teams were called – but he was pronounced dead half an hour later.

The man’s death comes as Milwaukee County continues to face a shortage of prison staff. A job fair was held earlier this month to hire people to care for those inside the prison.

“When individuals are arrested, there’s only part of the stuff that’s seen, that’s the criminal part. And what they don’t see is the sanity,” said Sylvester Jackson , former head of the Prisoners’ Organization (EXPO).

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Jackson said Sunday’s death should not have happened.

“Mental health plays a role,” Jackson said.

Jackson hopes to see changes at the county and state level — to help reduce the number of people locked up — and keep them from coming back.

This is the first death in the Milwaukee County jail in 2022. Two people died in the jail in 2021. One was deemed suicidal – the other was due to heart failure.

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