NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — The mother of a man who died while in custody at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center is responding to changes being made at the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.
“I am proud of how Jamal lived and how he died.” Amy Sutherland, mother of Jamal Sutherland tells News 2 she’s happy her son’s death will not be in vain but instead help save lives.
Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano laid out everything she has changed since taking office six months ago in a blog post this week.
“There’s a cause and God knows if there wasn’t a cause, I’d be half dead,” said Sutherland. She says Jamal looked and spoke about change. He died still believing in his faith as he shouted “Hallelujah” through the cell walls.
Jamal Sutherland died hours after Sheriff Graziano took office; it happened while he was being taken to a bond hearing only hours after being booked into the detention center because of an incident at a local mental health facility where he was receiving mental health treatment.
His mother says Jamal’s name should be heard every time they speak of changes.
According to the blog, the changes include:
- Calling those booked residents instead of inmates
- Residents can refuse bond hearings or attend them remotely
- Detention Officers must now de-escalate and disengage whenever a resident becomes combative or refuses to cooperate
- Detention Officers must intervene if they see something they think goes against policy or safety
Amy Sutherland believes these steps could have prevented her son’s death. “You kill a Black man in jail, innocent, mentally in a condition that he didn’t know what was going on,” said Sutherland.
In addition, the new policy states, if someone appears to be having a crisis before being booked — the Mobile Crisis Unit is now required to evaluate them before they are processed.
There is also a new tracking system that alerts medical staff whenever a resident needs an evaluation.
The re-trained officers responsible for difficult cases are now called the Emergency Response Team.
“If somebody else can benefit from his loss, thank you Jesus that somebody’s going to be helped,” expressed Sutherland.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office will host a mental health summit on August 4. Amy Sutherland tells News 2, she will attend that summit.