County Says Procedure Violated Before Panhandle Jail Death

Investigators say a jail guard violated policy because he never saw an inmate during a head count on the night the prisoner hanged himself.

But an official investigating the death says the omission probably did not make a difference.

Investigators say assault and child-abuse suspect James T. Sly of Springfield hanged himself April 5 with bed sheets attached to a shower room fixture at the privately run Bay County Jail. The jail is operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

The death remains under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Investigators say the guard went into the shower room about 2 in the morning, heard water running and assumed Sly was alive but never saw him because he was distracted by another person.

Authorities say company policy requires seeing an inmate's “living breathing flesh.''