A wrongful death lawsuit against Lawrence County and the Lawrence County Jail has been filed by the family of a woman who committed suicide over two years ago in the county jail.
Dan Vogler, Commissioner for Lawrence County, released a statement saying that officials were aware the suit had been filed. He added, however, that no one had been formally served with notifications from an official source.
On October 7, 2010, 31-year-old Kathleen Rogan of Slippery Rock Township was arrested and placed in Lawrence County Jail. She was being held in connection with charges of endangering the welfare of a child, according to local newspapers. The criminal complaint filed by New Castle Police stated that: Rogan abandoned her child, then nine months old. The document went on to say that Rogan told police she had left her child in another adult’s care and supervision.
At the time of her arrest, Rogan was placed on suicide watch in the jail. This requires uninterrupted supervision to ensure the subject does not harm herself. One weekend later, a specialist in mental health reviewed Rogan’s case and examined her. Between this evaluation and a doctor’s examination, it was recommended that Rogan be taken off suicide watch.
Less than a day later, during the morning of October 11th, Rogan was found during a regular half-hour check in. She was hanging from one of the jail cell’s bed frames, in a noose she had made for herself. She was taken to Jameson Memorial Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Rogan’s family has filed their lawsuit in response to the perceived neglect demonstrated by the prison staff in this matter. Perhaps adding weight to this perception, the coordinator of the jails has indicated that even with this suicide, there has been no change in policy for monitoring prisoners coming off suicide watch.