Prison board commends guards for preventing suicide

March 6, 2019

Two Somerset County Jail correctional officers were commended Tuesday for thwarting a suicide attempt by an inmate on Jan. 28.

The inmate was transferred to another facility and is doing well, according to Somerset County Prison Board members.

“You saved the life of this person who was undoubtedly a few seconds from death,” prison board President Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, the county’s district attorney, read from commendation letters for Nicole Tinkey and Bryan Zborovancik. The jail does not have a written policy about the steps a correctional officer should take if they feel a person is at risk of suicide.

“I strongly suggest that a policy be written, so that further down the road we have something to fall back on,” jail Lt. Brian Pelesky said.

Pelesky told the board he is working on a written policy. He said he will email the board members his proposed policy for review. “If you see anything that might be added or taken away, let me know, and when that is done I’ll have it (the written policy) ready for the next prison board for approval,” he said.

The prison board fired Warden Michael Porter last month for various reasons, including making jail policy changes before going to the board for approval.

“My understanding is I don’t need approval of policies,” Porter said during the meeting. Lazzari-Strasiser said the policies need to be in writing and presented to board members before they are enacted.

The board is advertising to fill the warden slot.

In other business Tuesday, the board learned that the jail’s average daily population was 114 in February. The average length of stay was 16 days, with three inmates released within 24 hours, four within two days and 17 within seven days. The jail’s population on Tuesday was 130, with 105 male inmates and 25 female inmates.

The board is scheduled to meet again at 8:30 a.m. April 2 in the jail work release center.