Inmate's Death Probed

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Dead Man's Brother Is Not Convinced It Was Suicide

by Diane Struzzi
The Hartford Courant

May 19, 2005

Adnan Saeed appeared to be fine during a telephone conversation with his family about an hour prior to his death at a Suffield prison, the inmate's older brother said Wednesday.

Saeed, 23, died Tuesday from asphyxia due to hanging, according to the medical examiner's office, which ruled the manner of death a suicide. Saeed was serving six years for violation of probation and most recently entered the prison system on April 15, according to a state Department of Correction news release.

Saeed, who was incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, called his family several times a day, his older brother Imran Saeed said.

Adnan Saeed told his family that he was not comfortable in prison this time, his brother said.

"We hope they will be doing a good investigation for this incident," said Imran Saeed, adding that he was not convinced that his brother's death was a suicide. "I really don't know what happened exactly."

State police and the correction department's security division are investigating Adnan Saeed's death.

Correctional staff members found Saeed, of Meriden, during their regular tour of the facility about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, the correction department said. He had a bed sheet tied around his neck with one end secured to an upper bunk. He was pronounced dead at 4:45 p.m. at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, the department said.

Along with the general population, Saeed was checked by correction officers every 30 minutes, and was the only inmate in the cell at the time of the incident, said Brian Garnett, an agency spokesman.

Saeed's death came four days after serial killer Michael Ross was executed. A lawsuit filed in Ross' case alleged that the execution would likely spur suicides among at-risk inmates. The lawyer who brought that lawsuit, Antonio Ponvert III, said Wednesday that Saeed's death is "more evidence of a continuing failure of the Department of Correction to take care of these desperate inmates."

"I think it's really deeply disturbing, and unfortunately the rhetoric and misrepresentations made by the state during the course of the Ross case have come back to haunt them to the profound detriment of a 23-year-old man and his family," Ponvert said.

Garnett said that there is no indication that Saeed's suicide had anything to do with Ross' execution. Saeed's brother said he did not believe that Ross' execution had anything to do with his brother's death.

"He did not have mental health issues. He was a healthy person," Imran Saeed said. "He talked to us about that [Ross] incident and we told him everything will be fine."

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who argued in court against Ponvert's claims, said he will "assess carefully and closely the results" of the investigation into Saeed's death.

"In any event, a single suicide - tragic and unfortunate as it may be - hardly constitutes the suicide contagion or epidemic predicted by the inmate who sought to prevent the Ross execution in his last-minute legal maneuver," Blumenthal said in a written statement.

Saeed's death is the fourth suicide in the prison system this year. Last year, there were nine suicides, a high number for the department, Garnett said. Between 2001 and 2003, there were four to five a year.

Garnett said that the agency has extensive policies in place and that the staff does an excellent job of protecting inmates. Last year, for instance, there were 143 attempts at suicide, Garnett said.

The agency has concentrated on identifying at-risk individuals, including improving the oversight of offenders and enhancing medical and mental health assessments, Garnett said.

"We've undertaken an extensive revision of our policies and brought in national experts as consultants to study our policies, and they have found them [to be] some of the best in the country," he said.