Inmate hangs self in county jail

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A prisoner in the Shelby County Detention Center was found dead in his cell last week, after he apparently hung himself.

A nurse working in the jail’s medical unit found the body of Edward Harold Muchowski, 65, around 6 p.m. He was pronounced dead immediately.

&uot;My deepest heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of Mr. Muchowski,&uot; Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry said. &uot;Our prayers for peace and comfort are extended to them during this tragic time.&uot;

Muchowski was arrested Aug. 9 by the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force and was charged with two counts of trafficking illegal drugs. His bond was set at a total of $2 million and he was being held in an isolation cell in the jail’s health ward for unspecified medical reasons.

Curry said the jail’s security and safety systems and procedures are constantly being updated to insure that incidents like this do not occur. But, he said, every incarceration facility in the nation has to deal with these types of situations.

&uot;There are always inmates who will attempt to take their own life,&uot; Curry said. &uot;We take tremendous steps to make sure this type of situation is prevented.&uot;

Curry said this is the first incident of an inmate killing himself since the new county jail opened a year ago. He said that extensive safety procedures are set up throughout the jail and include constant observation by video and Sheriff’s office personnel.

&uot;When a person decides that they want to take their own life, it is extremely difficult to prevent them from doing so,&uot; Curry said. &uot;The public hears about when an inmate is successful in taking their own life, but they rarely hear about how many suicide attempts are prevented, thanks to the proper security measures.&uot;

Curry said while he did not expect to see any serious changes to the jail’s security and observation systems or procedures, his office would be examining their procedures to insure their effectiveness.

Curry has also requested that the Alabama Bureau of Investigation conduct an investigation into Muchowski’s death. Attempts to contact the officer in charge of the ABI’s investigation were unsuccessful at presstime