Inmate Dies Inside Jail

By: Venton Blandin
By: Venton Blandin

June 15, 2006

An inmate inside the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail has died after only a short time in custody, and there are two on-going investigations into what caused the death.

The inmate who died was Jane Barbour, and she was 55-years-old. She was put into jail custody just three days before guards found her lying unresponsive inside her cell. The Albemarle County Police Department and Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail are conducting separate investigations to find out how this happened.

"We had no indication, [and] the individual inside the cell had no indication as to anything being wrong," said Colonel Ronald Matthews, the Superintendent of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

There was no indication anywhere that 55-year-old Jane Barbour was dead. After all, she was awake during a head-count earlier that day. The jail's superintendent says the former Albemarle County substitute teacher was found dead around dinner time.

"An attempt was made to wake the individual up to see whether they were going to eat, and that's when we found the individual had passed away," added Colonel Matthews.

Barbour was put in jail just three days before she died. Only 86 more days remained on her sentence. In addition to an internal investigation by the jail, police are also conducting their own.

"At this point, we're still waiting for the medical examiner's report for the cause of death," said Sergeant Linda Jenkins of the Albemarle County Police Department.

There have been six deaths inside the jail since its opening in 1974. One of those deaths was a jail officer who committed suicide in the 1980's.

Barbour's death is the first one Colonel Matthews has seen after working in the prison system for 12 years. Still, he and his staff are prepared to handle it.

"We train for it, we have policies and procedures in place, but still when it happens it is still kind of traumatic for everybody involved," said Colonel Matthews.

Barbour was in jail for failing to appear on a misdemeanor charge, and was supposed to be released in September.

A source said that Barbour had a very long list of alcohol-related charges with as many as four charges in the past couple of weeks.

A toxicology report is one of the reports be done on Barbour by medical examiner's office. Results should be back within a few weeks.

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