A young black man jailed for four months for an alleged $5 theft has been found dead in prison, it has been reported.
Jamycheal Mitchell, who suffered from mental health problems, was arrested in April in Virginia. The 24-year-old allegedly stole a bottle of soda, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake from a convenience store. He was refused bail.
Mitchell’s family have told The Guardian that they believe he starved to death after refusing food and medication in jail.
Officials say that after his arrest, he was held for three weeks at Portsmouth city jail. He was then transferred to Hampton roads regional jail.
Soon after, a court clerk ruled that he was not competent enough to stand trial and ordered that he be transferred to a mental health facility instead, to receive treatment.
However, the mental health facility said that it did not have a space for Mitchell and so he was held in prison until his death on 19 August.
His aunt, Roxanne Adams, who is a registered nurse, told The Guardian that he had become delusional after he stopped taking his mental health medication. He refused food and lost 65lbs.
She says that because of his mental health he did not provide a list of family names for people to visit him in prison, resulting in relatives being denied access to him in jail by prison employees.
“He was extremely emaciated. His mind was gone because he wasn’t taking his meds, so he didn't have a list for anyone to see him.”
Master jail officer at the prison said that his death "is deemed 'natural causes'." Virginia state officials have declined press requests for comment.
The Independent has contacted the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for comment.Reuse content