Larimer County Jail officials make statement on mental health after inmate bites off thumb

Caitlin Curley

A Larimer County Jail inmate bit off his own thumb Wednesday, prompting jail officials to make statements about mental health issues in the jail.

Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, a deputy was conducting a routine check on inmates in the high security housing unit. When he passed by a cell, he saw something slide in front of him from under the cell door. The deputy examined it and realized it was a thumb.

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The deputy looked inside the cell and saw that the inmate was bleeding from his hand. Medical staff responded to the area and 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, but he continued to attempt self-harm by pulling at the bandages and trying to bite himself. The inmate has assaulted a corrections deputy in the past.

The official press release from Larimer County Jail stated that mental health is a common issue in the jail.

“This is an example of the growing number of inmates housed in county jails who suffer from apparent or diagnosed mental illness,” the press release stated. “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, Tim Palmer, commented on the difficulties of handling mental health issues.

“Behavior management continues to be complex for corrections deputies because of inmates suffering significant and persistent mental health issues,” Palmer said.

Collegian Digital Managing Editor Caitlin Curley can be reached at ccurley@collegian.com or on Twitter @caitlinjcurley.