prison tour 27

File photo of Lancaster County Prison from Jan. 16, 2019.

On Saturday, Lancaster County announced that an inmate at Lancaster County Prison died after being found hanging in his cell Friday evening.

Justin Alcholz, 30, who was committed to the prison July 11 on drug related offenses, was found unresponsive Friday at 8:17 p.m. Despite life-saving efforts, Alcholz died Saturday afternoon at Lancaster General Hospital, officials said.

Warden Cheryl Steberger declined to comment on the specifics of the incident but said it is under review and she hopes to share more information at the August Prison Board meeting.

It was the first suicide at the prison since September 2018 when another inmate hanged himself.

After a string of three suicides in early 2015, the county created a suicide prevention task force to review incidents and implement changes.

In January guards stopped an attempted suicide by hanging using a Jtool — a plastic hook-like device about the size of a credit card with a small self-contained sharp edge.

Steberger said in an interview at the time that in the summer of 2019 Jtools were given to all security staff after requests that they be brought back.

County Commissioner Josh Parsons also said he could not comment on the specifics of this incident, in part because investigations into it are not yet complete, but said that suicide prevention has been a “strong focus” of the prison.

“We have been successful at preventing them but you’re never going to prevent every one,” he said. “We’re going to look at this one once we get the report back and see if there’s anything we can do differently.”


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