On January 27, 2016, at approximately 2:00 am, a corrections deputy in the Larimer County Jail was conducting routine 15-minute checks of inmates in the high security housing unit. As the deputy approached a cell door, he saw something slide into his path from under the cell door. Upon closer inspection, the deputy realized it was a person’s thumb.
The deputy looked into the cell and could see the inmate bleeding from his hand. Additional deputies and medical staff responded to the area and it was determined the inmate had bitten his thumb off of his hand. The inmate was transported to a local hospital for treatment, but it was not possible to reattach his thumb. He was returned to the jail where he continues to attempt self-harm by pulling at the bandages and attempting to bite himself. The inmate has also assaulted a corrections deputy in the past.
According to the Sheriff’s office, this is an example of the growing number of inmates housed in county jails who suffer from apparent or diagnosed mental illness. While the Larimer County Jail does provide mental health services to inmates through diagnoses and medications, the jail is not the appropriate venue for treatment of mental illness. The Corrections Division Commander, Captain Tim Palmer, stated, “Behavior management continues to be complex for corrections deputies because of inmates suffering significant and persistent mental health issues.”