Man dies of dehydration in Brazos County Jail custody, local pastor seeks answers

“Melvin Earl Jones was born to Melvin Jones and Ethel Lena Jones on August 21, 1970, in Bryan, Texas. He departed this life on August 18, 2015. He attended public schools in Snook, Texas. He moved to Fargo, North Dakota later and tried to create a life there. He moved back to Bryan, Texas and lived here until his death.”Daniel and Sons Funeral Home obituaty for Melvin Earl Jones

Community organizer, pastor at Neal Park Potluck, and Tiny Hope Village founder Dan Kiniry’s friend Melvin Jones died of dehydration while suffering a mental health crisis in the custody of Brazos County Jail. The 44 year old man had been in custody for approximately two weeks when he was taken to St. Joseph’s hospital. He was pronounced dead there at 7:32a.m. on August 18, 2015.

At the time of Jones’s death Wayne Dicky, a candidate in the 2020 race for Brazos County Sheriff, was the Brazos County Jail’s chief administrator. Dicky still serves in that role as he campaigns to become the county’s sheriff.

Kiniry asks of Dicky and all candidates for Brazos County Sheriff, “what are you going to do” to ensure people get help and treatments and don’t “die like a dog” of dehydration because they’re having a mental health crisis?

The Brazos Reporter sent all three candidates in the Brazos County Sheriff’s race sent a video of Kiniry telling Jones’s story and asking the questions. He wants to know what they will do to ensure nobody else suffers Jones’s fate in Brazos County’s custody.

So far, we have only received a response from one candidate, Wayne Dicky. We have copy/pasted it verbatim below. Dicky does not mention Melvin Jones or the specific incident on his watch but instead focuses on his jail’s strengths in the mental health arena. He refers to well-known community leader Dan Kiniry, featured in the video as “Mr. Kirby.”

Mr. Kirby’s concerns, while not fully informed, reinforce my stance on the challenges we face regarding mental health issues as they relate to corrections, law enforcement, and our community.

The Sheriff’s Office has created and implemented the Crisis Intervention Team, a group of specially trained deputies, tasked to handle situations in which an individual is in a mental health crisis. Their role is to divert people in crisis out of the Criminal Justice System and redirect them to the appropriate mental health care provider.

Within the Detention Center, the Sheriff’s Office is part of a cutting-edge initiative with the National Institute of Corrections and the Correctional Management Institute of Texas to create a model Jail Mental Health Officer training program to improve mental health outcomes. The Brazos County Detention Center is proud to have 3 Master Jail Mental Health trainers on staff who are part of a contingent of 48 Master Trainers state-wide. We have also hosted this program locally for detention officers from surrounding counties as part of the NIC initiative to make this training more widely available to officers.

As a community, it is imperative that we work together to destigmatize mental illness and continue to cultivate relationships within the mental health profession and the justice system to generate awareness of this problem. We must educate and train law enforcement officers how to properly identify and handle situations involving an individual in crisis.

https://www.shsu.edu/today@sam/T@S/article/2017/cj-mental-health

https://www.theeagle.com/news/local/actors-help-area-jailers-learn-to-address-inmates-mental- issues/article_2a0096be-51e4-11e9-9b0c-4755bbf1bfec.html

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