From 1980-1983, I was a Reserve Deputy Sheriff. After the Sheriff Academy you were assigned to Road Patrol, Warrant, Dispatch or jail. I was put on jail duty. My very first night was a Friday night, which is always a busy night. I was being trained by a full-time deputy. He was showing me the rounds, checking various cell blocks A-B-C and so on.

After a couple hours, he let me go on my own. We were holding a 13 or 14-year-old boy for shoplifting and he was in a cell by himself. He would not talk or identify himself. I tried to talk to him on my rounds telling him just hang on until Monday, you will be out of here, it’s no big deal.

This had no effect on him. After a couple more hours, I was making my rounds and I found him hanging by his jeans in the cell. I had approximately 12 keys that were all big and brass and looked alike. Being new I did not know which one opened the door. I was panicking trying to get the door open to get him down. I hit the call button to summon help. In the meantime I got the cell door open. The boy was not breathing. By this time help had arrived. The paramedics took him to the University Hospital and then later returned him back to the jail. The jail response was to strip him and put him back into the cell. That was my first look at inside a real jail. He was indeed released on Monday.

It’s something I will never forget, trying to get the door open with all these keys while he swung there dying. Thank goodness it turned out he did not die.
— KK, KS

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