Group rallies to raise awareness of Roanoke City Jail in-custody deaths

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) More inmates are dying in the Roanoke City Jail than at any other jail facility in Southwest Virginia.

The Roanoke Peoples Power Network hosted a rally Tuesday evening titled "No More Jail Deaths".

Natasha Harper was one of the organizers, her stepson, Clifton Harper, a Roanoke City Jail inmate, was found hanging by a bedsheet in his cell two years ago.
He died shortly after he was discovered.

According to the Roanoke City Sheriff's Office, Harper's suicide was one of four carried out the same way and one of six deaths of an inmate in custody since 2015.

"With every death that I see that happens, especially suicides, it makes me really emotional and a bit angry because it's still happening," said Harper.

She thinks there are changes that can be made to prevent in-custody suicides and deaths.

"Let's find a solution to this problem, even work together," said Harper.

She hopes the rally will attract attention to the issue and inspire change.
"This is what's happening in Roanoke City Jail," she said. "These are the numbers, these are the facts."

The sheriff's office released the following statement about the rally:

"The Roanoke City Sheriff's Office is aware of the rally being held by the Roanoke Peoples' Power Network this evening regarding inmate deaths. It is the constitutional right of an individual to peacefully protest any cause they feel necessary. The Roanoke City Jail continues to be sensitive to the family members and friends of the individuals impacted by these events."

The following are the total in-custody deaths in the Roanoke City Jail since 2015, according to the sheriff's office:

Stephen Haga 10-11-2015
Clifton Harper 12-17-15
Jessica Carter 12-22-15
Roy Wayne Foley 5-23-17
Phillip Meadows 6-9-17
Joshua Jones 9-9-17

The following are the total amount of suicides in the Roanoke City Jail since 2015:

Stephen Haga 10-11-2015
Clifton Harper 12-17-15
Roy Wayne Foley 5-23-17
Joshua Jones 9-9-17