Jamycheal Mitchell, who was arrested four months ago for stealing food worth $US5, has been found dead in his jail cell.
The 24-year-old had mental health problems, according to The Guardian, which broke the story, and was arrested on misdemeanour charges on April 22 after being “accused of stealing a bottle of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake worth a total of $US5 from a 7-Eleven.”
He was held, without bail, at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia. The Guardian interviewed court officials and representivives from the police department and the jail itself, but found that none of them could explain why Mitchell wasn’t granted bail.
Mitchell’s body has not yet received an autopsy, even though he died on August 21. An official at Hampton Roads told The Guardian that he seems to have died of “natural causes.”
Mitchell’s family, though, believes Mitchell died after refusing meals and medication. Roxanne Adams, his aunt and a registered nurse, said he had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for five years.
A judge ordered that Mitchell should have been moved to and treated at a state-run mental health facility after finding that he was not competent to stand trial, but the hospital didn’t have any vacancies.
“He was just deteriorating so fast,” Adams told The Guardian. “I kept calling the jail, but they said they couldn’t transfer him because there were no available beds.”
Adams said that some of Mitchell’s relatives were not permitted to visit him because Mitchell hadn’t given their names as approved visitors.
“His mind was gone because he wasn’t taking his meds, so he didn’t have a list for anyone to see him,” Adams told The Guardian.
Mitchell had spent time in jail twice before — in 2010 and 2012 — also on charges on petty larceny and trespassing, but was released both times. In the 2012 instance, he had spent a month in a state hospital.
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