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Suicide Being Investigated at Sandoval County Detention Center

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The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a suicide at the county’s detention center.

This is the third suicide at the Sandoval County Detention Center since December.

Dario Panteh, 19, of Zuni pueblo, was found hanging in his cell about 12:44 a.m. today at SCDC. He was found by a guard, according to Sandoval County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jessica Mascarenas.

Medics responded and performed CPR on Panteh at SCDC and then transported him to Rust Medical Center where he later died from his injuries, Mascarenas said in an e-mail.

It was not immediately known what Panteh hung himself with. Panteh was being held on federal aggravated battery charges at SCDC.

On Dec. 6, Kenneth Traiger, 22, hung himself from a torn sheet in the shower area of the jail. Detention center staff unsuccessfully tried to revive him.

He was taken to a hospital and put on a ventilator, but he never regained consciousness. He was taken off life support on Dec. 11, according to the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office. Traiger had been booked in the jail on a bank robbery charge.

On Dec. 8, Stephen Vincent, 52, was booked into the jail about 7 p.m. and was found hanging in his jail cell about 8 1/2 hours later. He used his shoelaces to hang himself from a vent, the Sheriff’s Office said. Vincent was booked on a warrant charging him with criminal sexual penetration of a minor.

The jail made changes to its intake policies and procedures as a result of an internal investigation into those two suicides.

At the time of the two suicides, SCDC allowed its inmates to wear their tennis shoes if they were not on suicide watch. Under the new policy, inmates wearing low top tennis shoes are allowed to keep their shoes if approved by jail personnel, according to Hill.

Shoelaces will be removed from their tennis shoes. After an inmate has been at the jail for 48 hours, he or she can ask for a pair of shoelaces. If approved, they will be given back their shoelaces, but the laces cannot be longer than 20 inches.

Inmates who are on suicide watch, are on medical or disciplinary classification or who are housed in a segregation cell will not be issued shoelaces, according to Hill.
Prior to the two suicides in December, the last suicide at SCDC was in May 2010 and before that, in the early 1990s, SCDC director Al Casamento previously told the Journal. The SCDC location in Montoya Road in Bernalillo has been in operation since 1988.

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