In what appears to be North Carolina’s fifth inmate suicide this year, a prisoner at Maury Correctional Institution was found dead in his cell Tuesday morning.
Authorities are investigating the death of Robert Daidone, 28, who was in the Eastern North Carolina prison for second-degree murder and other offenses committed in Wake County. He was found unresponsive in his cell shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday.
State records show Daidone was housed in “intensive control,” a form of solitary confinement typically used for disruptive inmates.
A spate of prison suicides this year has spurred investigations and heightened the concerns of inmate advocates.
So far this year, at least five inmates have committed suicide in North Carolina prisons. That exceeds the number for all of 2015, when three suicides were reported.
In the 25 years ending in 2015, 68 suicides were reported in the state’s prisons – an average of about 2.7 per year.
A medical examiner recently ruled that the April death of Scott Sica – one inmate originally thought to have committed suicide – was actually an accident. Sica’s cause of death was listed as “autoerotic asphyxiation,” an act in which a person temporarily cuts off the oxygen supply to the brain in order to heighten sexual pleasure.
Plan aims to curb suicides
Last month, following the Observer’s coverage about the flurry of inmate suicides, the state prison system rolled out a new plan aimed at preventing more inmates from taking their own lives. That policy is scheduled to become effective Sept. 1.
Among other things, the plan would require that:
▪ All prison staff be trained to recognize whether an inmate is at risk of committing suicide.
▪ Every prison conduct three mock drills each year to prepare staff on how to handle an attempted suicide in progress.
▪ Prison mental health professionals do more frequent monitoring of inmates after they come off suicide watch to ensure they’re out of danger.