Parents want answers about their son’s death in the Davidson County Jail

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It’s been nearly two months since Arnold and Lisa Baldwin lost their son Chris to suicide. 

“It’s been horrible,” Lisa said. “I mean we have to navigate how to start life again without Chris.” 

Chris, a father of four, was an inmate at Davidson County Jail. 

On February 20th, he was arrested on felony arson and felony theft of property. 

Two days later, Chris hung himself.  He died on February 24th at the hospital.

“Something happened there,” Arnold said. “Somebody knows, but they’re not talking about it.” 

The parents say they don’t where or how it happened. 

“We don’t know if he got into a fight,” Arnold said. “We don’t know what happened and how it happened.” 

They say their biggest concern is that it could have been prevented. 

Chris attempted suicide at the same jail months before.

“We couldn’t believe it happened again,” Arnold said. 

“It was unimaginable,” Lisa said. “I mean how does that happen twice?” 

In July, Chris hung himself in the bathroom at the jail but soon recovered, according to the parents. 

Arnold and Lisa say when he went back in February, he should’ve been placed on suicide watch.

“Why wasn’t he being protected?” Lisa said. “Why wasn’t anyone watching him? Why wasn’t he on suicide watch?” 

Chris was bipolar and battled heroin addiction for years. 

The family says with the sheriff’s office making a new push for better care for mentally ill inmates, Chris should’ve been treated better. 

The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office recently began training for its Handle with Care program which teaches staff and officers de-escalation techniques and other methods of dealing with the mentally ill.

“We’re just asking that he be treated humanely,” Lisa said. 

Karla West, spokesperson for DCSO, didn’t comment directly on the case. 

She sent this statement to News 2 regarding training for jail staff dealing with the mentally ill:

“We do have a focus on mental illness and making sure our correctional staff has as much training as possible when it comes to this issue; however, we aren’t the medical experts who determine diagnosis/precautions. We will never be the ones who make those determinations. Our focus is to work on decriminalizing mental  illness and to ensure our correctional staff better understands how to interact with those in jail who are mentally ill.”

West says the agency that would determine if an inmate needs to be placed on suicide watch is WellPath, a mental health service that handles inmate care. 

WellPath has not responded to emails from News 2 asking for comment.
 

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