Virginia sheriff criticizes mental health system as inmate found dead

This undated photo provided by the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office shows Joseph Sisson Jr. He was found dead at a Virginia jail Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, leading the sheriff to speak out against the state's mental health system. (Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office via AP/WAVY)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A Virginia sheriff says an inmate who died in jail was mentally ill, and he’s criticizing the state’s mental health system.

Sheriff Ken Stolle said in a statement that 69-year-old Joseph Sisson Jr.’s mental illness was the cause of his incarceration. He called Virginia’s mental health system “broken and ill-equipped to help all those who need it.”

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that a deputy and a medical technician attempted to wake Sisson to administer medication Monday night, but he didn’t respond and resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.

The release says Sisson was responsive during routine rounds conducted nine minutes before the medical rounds at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center.

Sisson had been booked Nov. 20 on four misdemeanor charges.

His cause of death hasn’t been determined.

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