Clallam County to review protocols after inmate death

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County is working on an unexpected fatality review regarding the death of a Clallam County jail inmate, Chief Corrections Deputy Don Wenzl said.

Joshua Bones, 39, of Port Angeles was found hanging by his neck from a blanket by a corrections deputy during cell checks at 12:53 a.m. Dec. 23, according to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office. He was transported to Olympic Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, said Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King.

The county had 120 days from the day of the death to submit the review to the state Department of Health regarding the death of a Clallam County jail inmate on Dec. 23, Wenzl said.

A committee consisting of people in law enforcement, corrections and mental health professionals will review whether all the policies and protocols were done properly, Wenzl said Wednesday.

According to a report to the state Legislature, the review’s purpose is to develop recommendations for the state Department of Corrections and the Legislature regarding changes in practices or policies to prevent fatalities and strengthen safety and health protections for incarcerated individuals.

“King and Thurston counties have had to do these. So we are looking at how they did it and make sure we are doing it right,” Wenzl said.

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5119 established the “unexpected fatality review” process. It passed the state Senate unanimously on Feb. 25, 2021, and passed the state House on April 7, 2021, by a vote of 89-8.

Thurston County has conducted one review so far and King County has conducted eight. The reviews can be reviewed at https://doh.wa.gov/you-and-your-family/injury-and-violence-prevention/unexpected-fatality-jail-reviews.

When the Port Angeles Police Department finishes its investigation of the death, that report will be presented to the sheriff, Wenzl said.

“We have to wait for the coroner report and a couple of other things. That timeline is up to PAPD, but I assume they will be fairly expeditious. Their investigation probably will be provided to the review committee,” he said.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at brian.gawley@sound publishing.com.

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