OPPRC is deeply disturbed by the news of Jaquin Thomas’ death in OPP, and extends condolences to his family and community. His is the 48th death in OPP since 2006, and the second death, following Cleveland Tumblin’s suicide in March, to occur in the Orleans Justice Center, which opened just over a year ago. Many questions remain surrounding the circumstances that led to this 15-year-old’s alleged suicide in an adult jail.
Thomas’ death is a tragic reminder of the brutal, violent, and deadly conditions inside OPP. His death illustrates the need for increased accountability and community oversight, and the need to oppose any plans to expand the jail. At a time when the jail is severely understaffed, when protocols have not been written or followed, when classification systems are repeatedly ignored, and when the jail has been mismanaged for so many years, building more beds and exposing more people to the violence and neglect will do nothing to improve public safety. A smaller jail is a safer jail. Children and people with mental illness should not be in jail, and we will continue to oppose any jail expansion in their name.