Inmate kills himself at Idaho prison, state corrections says

Jerry Michael Cruz.
Jerry Michael Cruz.

Jerry Michael Cruz, 22, was found hanging in his cell on the afternoon of Oct. 13.

After attempts by correctional officers to save him, paramedics rushed him to a Boise hospital, where he died late Saturday night, Oct. 22, the Idaho Department of Correction says.

Cruz was an inmate at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise. The medium-security men’s prison has 1,446 beds.

Cruz was serving time for a burglary conviction out of Twin Falls County. According to state correctional records, he could have been eligible for parole starting in March 2017, though his sentence ran until March 2020. His next parole hearing was set for September 2017; Cruz had just asked the parole commission last month to pass him up for parole for now, saying he didn’t feel he was ready, said Sandy Jones, the commission’s executive director.

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Cruz’s suicide. IDOC often turns to that sheriff’s office to look into deaths at its Boise-area prisons.

Before this month, the most recent apparent suicide reported by IDOC was that of Troy Blaine Watson, serving a prison-based treatment term at the Correctional Alternative Placement Program (also south of Boise) for a drug possession conviction in Bingham County. Watson died in December after telling correctional staff he had taken his personal medication in a suicide attempt. Investigators and the Ada County Coroner’s Office determined he died from severe cardiac arrest, possibly influenced by a drug overdose.