When Jamesville Correctional Facility is eventually closed, incarcerated people will likely be incarcerated at Onondaga County jail (pictured). The jail has repeatedly been cited for violating minimum standards by the New York State Commission Of Correction. Credit: Chris Libonati | libonati@centralcurrent.org

A man died in custody at the Onondaga County jail this weekend, sheriff’s spokesman Thomas Newton said.

Deputies found the man at 11 a.m. Saturday and tried to save his life, Newton said. Deputies believe the man died by suicide, he said.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office is conducting a preliminary investigation into the man’s death.

The sheriff’s office has not yet released the man’s name, age or any other information about him.

Four people have died at the facility since September 2021. The man’s death on Saturday is the first at the Onondaga County jail this year.

Conditions at the jail came under scrutiny in light of recent deaths, and have also been at the center of conversations since Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon proposed closing Jamesville Correctional Facility in December. The county would move staff and people incarcerated at Jamesville to the jail downtown.

Sheriff Toby Shelley, who took office this year, has said a merger of the two incarcerated populations could lead to overcrowding. McMahon and his staff have argued the move would ease staffing issues at the jail.

4 deaths at Onondaga County jail in 20 months

  • Angela Peng, 27, died at the jail in September 2021. A New York State Commission of Correction report slammed health care provided to Peng at the jail.
  • Paul Watkins, 38, died by suicide at the jail in December 2021. The Commission of Correction released a report in January that found Watkins had threatened suicide on a call with his mother the day he died.
  • A prematurely-born infant, Ayanna Byrd, died after she was born in her mother’s cell at the jail.

Families of each of the people who died at the jail have planned lawsuits against the county and previous jail health care provider NaphCare.

Read more about the onondaga County jail

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Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or libonati@centralcurrent.org.