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Review after death of Mecklenburg inmate in May shows more missed safety checks

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Eight inmates at the Mecklenburg County Jail uptown have died in just over a year’s time.

Eight inmates at the Mecklenburg County Jail uptown have died in just over a year’s time. The state has reviewed six of those deaths so far and found officers missed many safety checks in the hours leading up to five of them.

The state requires jail staff to check on inmates twice an hour to make sure they’re safe and everything is in order — more often if they’re sick or on suicide watch.

The latest review by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services found no documentation for five rounds leading up to the death of Derrick Geter this past May. The Sheriff’s office said the 33-year-old was housed in the infirmary unit. He passed out in the shower at about 10 a.m., according to a preliminary assessment by the medical examiner. The cause of death has not been released. The state review shows officers missed the five rounds the previous day, including one hour when there were no checks.

Reviews of the four other deaths in which there were supervision failures show no documentation for at least a quarter of rounds. Two of those were suicides.

These missed checks were one of the big problems cited by a state inspector in December when he said inadequate staffing posed “an imminent threat” to the safety of inmates and staff. The sheriff’s office told the state it would randomly review video footage, log entries and its electronic monitoring system to make sure officers did not miss checks.

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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.