In Custody Deaths: Beyond Case Closed

In Custody Deaths: Beyond Case Closed
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-08-08
Unit 1Presentation Materials: In Custody Deaths: Beyond Case Closed
Unit 2Transcript: In Custody Deaths: Beyond Case Closed
Unit 3Workbook: In Custody Deaths: Beyond Case Closed
Unit 4Recording: In Custody Deaths: Beyond Case Closed

Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails and prisons in the United States. Those working in jails and prisons are also highly likely to be exposed to such tragic incidents which likewise impacts their well-being. For this webinar, Diana Knapp presents three in-custody suicides at the Jackson County Detention Center in Kansas City, Missouri – focusing on the details of the cases leading to the death, indicators, and risk factors, as well as what facilities and staff can look out for and do to prevent these from happening.

Diana Knapp is the Director of the Jackson County Detention Center (JCDC) in Kansas City, Missouri. With almost thirty years of experience working in adult and juvenile detention settings. She is currently the chair of the American Jail Association‘s committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Points she discussed in this session include:

  • The prevalence of suicide incidents in detention and correction settings.
  • An overview of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center, its inmate population and capacity, staff composition, and mental health support providers.
  • Kansas’ Crime Problem over the recent years.
  • The details surrounding Michael McNurlin’s in-custody death.
    • The cases McNurlin was involved and convicted in, the events that transpired following his sentence that contributed to his suicide ideation, and how he was discovered when he took his own life.
    • Considerations with pulling video footage before and after the incident.
    • Addressing policy violations and reviewing policy and procedure to prevent such incidents.
    • Providing retraining to staff where there were policy failures and support to staff who are exposed to trauma due to the incidents.
  • Oswaldo Abrego-Soriano’s suicide in Jackson County Detention Center.
    • Details of his offense and his arrest, and the events following his arrest that left him isolated, exacerbated his anxiety, and ended up with him committing suicide.
    • How language barriers, not having a support system, and fear of deportation created isolation and anxiety.
    • How routine items can be lethal as in his case where he only used a t-shirt and water to take his own life.
    • The importance of conducting frequent cell checks as prevention and intervention, particularly for struggling inmates who are recently sentenced.
    • How unusually elevated mood of an inmate who’s been depressed and anxious suddenly can be an indication of suicidality.
  • The Kylr Yust/Jessep Carter case.
    • The cases where Kylr Yust was involved, the discovery of the remains of the missing women, and what led to his arrest.
    • Jessep Carter’s involvement in Yust’s case and the separate case Carter faced the following year.
    • How Carter was expected to testify against Yust’s case but committed suicide while detained in JCDC.
    • The value of getting correction professionals to pay attention to events surrounding a case, particularly high-profile ones.
    • Why it is critical to monitor phone calls and mails between inmates and their families to get a better picture of what is happening.
    • Ensuring frequent contact with inmates to engage with them and getting mental health professionals involved to get them the help they need.
    • The importance of providing staff with resources against cumulative trauma and supporting their wellness endeavors.
    • How everyday objects – such as the deodorant container used by Carter – can be lethal.

Questions and comments from the webinar audience are about:

  • The frequency of visual checks and tracking and conducting inmate observation rounds.
  • Who investigates in-custody deaths at the JCDC.
  • Mental health training provided to correctional officers.
  • Prescribed video footage timeframe to capture surrounding an event and spoliation concerns.
  • Getting staff to utilize the peer support system and overcome stigma.
  • Protocols when it comes to putting recently sentenced inmates on suicide watch.
  • Facilitating communication and good working relationship between correctional and medical or mental health staff.
  • Leveraging therapy dogs for staff and inmates.



Other Webinars with this Speaker


Or, click here to register and view other Jail/Corrections related webinars and recordings on the JCH website.



Audience Comments

  • “The information presented was so informative.” — Tara
  • “Straightforward information in being proactive to prevent inmate suicide.” — M. Travis
  • “Director Knapp used different scenarios to fully illustrate the various issues/circumstances of inmate suicide.” — Lea
  • “I always find investigation and how the criminal justice system comes together to solve a case amazing.” — Jocelyn
  • “I work for a Sheriff’s Office, but I do not work in the jail. However, I thought this webinar was great and very informative. I really enjoyed it. I think all employees should have to watch this one.” — Heather
  • “The case study reviews were beneficial to the content. It’s great to have webinars on suicide prevention. It may also be good to look at more information on what is found in after-action reviews, especially signs that were missed.” — Debra
  • “Diana…you are the best! I really appreciate the way you had something bad happened and you looked for the cause! Then you actually tried to fix it! Great webinar!” — Brenda
  • “Excellent information. It will save a life.” — Robert
  • “The discussion on how often staff checks on residents and review of video when there’s an incident.” — Thomas
  • “It was a well-instructed webinar. It is good to compare differences on policy and procedures between different facilities, agencies, etc. to see what works best.” — Jacob
  • “WOW, this was a fantastic webinar. My favorite part of it was the sharing the lessons learned after the incidents. Realistically, we are not able to stop all attempts because where there is a will, there is a way unless we have face-to-face watch. But looking for subtle signs and clues would be a great starter to hinder suicide attempts. Unfortunately, transferring sentenced DOC inmates are delayed by overcrowded populations, and we end up housing those longer.” — FRANCISCA
  • “The most valuable thing I learned from this webinar is how crucial it is to have staff walking around and present throughout the jail/prison to stay abreast of what is going on. I also enjoyed learning about how mental health professionals can provide support to incarcerated persons to reduce deaths by suicide.” — Erin




This webinar is part of the JCH Summer School Program. From June 1-August 31, 2023, attendees will receive a certificate of attendance via email about one hour after the conclusion of a webinar.

Want to join us for other Summer School webinars? Check out our Summer School Calendar and register today!



The American Jail Association (AJA) is a national, nonprofit organization that supports the professionals who operate our Nation’s jails. It is the only national association that focuses exclusively on issues specific to the operations of local correctional facilities. The driving force behind the phenomenal growth of AJA is its members. AJA has taken a leadership role in developing the type of programs that promote the professional growth of the dedicated men and women who operate our Nation’s jails.  Jail staff have the responsibility for the management of people who have been charged with violating our laws and often mock the ideals on which AJA was founded. Jail personnel find themselves sorely tested each day in the jail environment when they receive scorn and derision for their loyalty and perseverance under extremely trying circumstances.  AJA takes this opportunity to salute the jail staff of the Nation who, by their dedication to the difficult task of local corrections, have made a vital, positive difference to the welfare of the communities they serve.  Click here to learn more about AJA. 



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