River Oaks reviewing jail policy after woman kills herself in cell

Posted Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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RIVER OAKS -- A review of jail policies is under way after a 40-year-old North Richland Hills woman killed herself in a River Oaks jail cell by using a sock and a telephone cord.

A sister of Christine Sexton had called River Oaks police on Feb. 5, warning them that she was suicidal. An officer talked to Sexton, who told the officer that she did not intend to kill herself, River Oaks police said.

The following afternoon, however, Sexton was found dead when Fort Worth police arrived to take her to their jail on a forgery charge. An autopsy by the Tarrant County medical examiner's office indicated that Sexton died from asphyxia by hanging and her death was ruled a suicide.

"It's sad losing your life in a jail," said River Oaks Police Chief Arvin Carter. "It's our job to protect the public and it didn't happen in this case."

The suicide was the first at that River Oaks Jail in 24 years, and only the second in the city's history.

Carter said the department would review its training with officers who handle the prisoners at the four-cell holding facility.

"I will be going over all our jail policies with the command staff," Carter said. "There will be some type of changes."

River Oaks police arrested Sexton at about 2 a.m. on Feb. 2 for no valid driver's license and failure to appear.

Carter noted that Sexton had had a cellmate for several days and a surveillance camera was working in the jail cell.

"There's an area at the toilet with a telephone over it that the camera doesn't cover," the police chief said. "It's a little privacy that we give them."

But Carter said it was in that area where Sexton used the telephone cord and a sock to hang herself.

The police chief said that Sexton's sister had visited her on Feb. 5 and at that time Sexton had a cellmate. The cellmate was released later that day.

"The sister called dispatch and said her sister [Sexton] was suicidal," Carter said. "Our warrant officer went back and talked to her. She said she was fine and that she was not suicidal. Everything seemed fine."

The police chief said that the officer had been trained on recognizing and handling suicidal inmates.

Sexton, who worked as a mechanic in Fort Worth, left no note.

The police chief said that they may have to change the jail policy regarding clothing.

"Will we have to take away their socks, underwear and T-shirts?" Carter said. "I don't know. It gets cold in there without socks. Maybe we'll have to go to some type of overalls."

Carter also said that they may need to change the phones, bunk beds and the camera locations in the jail.

"We may have to install phones without cords or lower bunk beds," the police chief said. "The cameras may need to be placed where there's no privacy for someone."

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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