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Man dies in custody at Montgomery County Jail, seventh so far this year

The Montgomery County Jail building in downtown Dayton.
Alejandro Figueroa
The Montgomery County Jail building in downtown Dayton.

A man has died at the Montgomery County Jail while in custody. His death marks the seventh at the local jail so far this year.

47-year-old Terry Clemmons was booked on felony weapons charges on July 26, 2023. He died a day later following what the jail is calling a “medical emergency.” Officers discovered Clemmons unresponsive in his cell during a routine safety check, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office.

The sheriff's office is investigating Clemmons’ death. Officials said there is no indication of foul play or a drug overdose. Other deaths at the jail in recent months have been linked to drug use.

Destiny Brown is a Community Organizer with the law firm Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) and a member of the anti-mass incarceration group The Montgomery County Jail Coalition (MCJC). Brown has raised concerns about healthcare in the jail for months.

“The jail is operating as a jail, not a hospital. It is not designed to be a mental health facility or a drug detox program,” Brown said. “At some point you have to accept that the system as it is is not working.”

A spokesperson for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said standard physical and mental health screenings are performed by qualified personnel for all people who are put into custody at the jail.

Similar to Brown, Joel Pruce, an associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton and member of the MCJC, is calling for broad changes to the criminal justice system in Montgomery County after Clemmons' death.

“Running a jail is expensive, it's harmful, and it doesn't keep people safe or healthy. The needs we have in our community are just not well-served by the jail,” Pruce said. What all of this tells us is that we have to create options outside of the jail.”

Pruce cited programs like the mental health and substance abuse center at the former St. Elizabeth medical facility, or the Dayton Mediation Center as alternatives to mass incarceration. Pruce also said county policymakers should expand its Crisis Now program.

Sheriff’s detectives and the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office are conducting the Clemmons’ death investigation. The Sheriff’s Inspectional Services Unit is also reviewing the incident.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming

Email: afigueroa@wyso.org
Phone: 937-917-5943
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