Two men hang themselves at Anchorage jails

Posted: Friday, December 22, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two men being held at state-operated jails in Anchorage killed themselves in separate incidents this week, Corrections Department officials said.

Terrence Thompson, 30, was found hanging early Wednesday morning in his cell at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility. Andrew Paton, 26, was found hanging at Sixth Avenue Correctional Center early Sunday, according to Bruce Richards, special assistant to the state corrections commissioner.

Both deaths will be investigated by Alaska State Troopers and the state medical examiner, said Bruce Richards, special assistant to the corrections commissioner.

Thompson had been at Cook Inlet since Oct. 26 on a parole violation, Richards said. In July, he had finished serving two years in prison on a charge of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

At about 1:54 a.m., a corrections officer making a routine walk-through discovered Thompson. The corrections officer initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation and paramedics transported Thompson to a local hospital, where he was declared dead, Richards said.

''There was no indication whatsoever that he was having any kind of trouble or was depressed,'' Richards said.

Paton had been found intoxicated outdoors by Anchorage police and had been taken to the Sixth Avenue facility for 12 hours of protective custody. A corrections staffer found him hanging at 5:40 a.m. Sunday. Neither corrections workers nor paramedics could revive him.

''He was being monitored,'' Richards said. ''He had just been seen seven to 10 minutes before.''

The deaths have shaken up corrections workers at both facilities, Richards said.

''It's very difficult, and we train for it,'' he said. ''It's something that you watch for. . . . But if somebody's bound and determined, they can succeed.''

No inmate had committed suicide at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial since it opened in 1983, though the staff had interrupted many attempts, Richards said.

''They're really having a hard time over there,'' Richards said. ''They did take pride in the fact that they did not have one since the opening.''

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