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Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter offers background on recent jail deaths

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, at 1:24 p.m.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter on Wednesday provided more information about two recent deaths at the jail.

Both men, John Price, 59, and Joel Hilton, 44, had health issues, but Easter said he couldn’t comment on their health because of privacy regulations.

No foul play is suspected, based on investigations by sheriff’s detectives, Easter said. All jail deaths are reported to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. It could be several weeks before autopsy results are available.

Price, who had been in jail on felony charges, was found in his cell on Nov. 7, and couldn’t be revived, Easter said. He had been to the jail clinic eight times, Easter said.

Hilton, in jail on a Municipal Court case, was found on Monday, and also couldn’t be revived, Easter said. Hilton had been seen by the clinic five times. Before he arrived at the jail, he had been in hospitals for medical issues, Easter said.

Many inmates who come to the jail haven’t regularly been seen by a doctor, and so they often get better care while in the jail, the sheriff said. If they have medical issues that can’t be treated in the clinic, they are taken to a hospital and are guarded while there. Their medical care while in the sheriff’s custody is paid for with taxpayer funding, he said.

With a jail that is designed to hold about 1,100 people, “it’s basically a small city,” and partly because of that, it has inmates who die while in custody, he said.

Currently, 1,050 inmates are being held in the jail, in downtown Wichita, and 218 other Sedgwick County inmates are being held in other county jails to keep the Sedgwick County Jail from being overcrowded.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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