Texas Jail Project member speaks on recent Smith County inmate death

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 3:48 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A member of the Texas Jail Project addressed the Smith County Commissioners Court on Tuesday about a recent inmate death at the Smith County Jail.

Dalila Reynoso addressed the Smith County Commissioners Court about the death of Nathan Lee Johns.

Johns was found hanging from an electrical cord in his cell last week, according to a release from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office. Officials said he pulled the cord from an inmate phone box and managed to conceal it.

In her comments to the court, Reynoso said this was another example of the need for more mental health resources. She told the court she’s been asking for years for more to be done.

“I’m always told the same. ‘We’re working on it, Dalia. We’re working on it.’ How many more individuals have to die in our county jail? Could this have been prevented? I believe so. I want to believe so. I was to leave you with this: am I not my brother’s keeper?”

Reynoso has been a member of the Texas Jail Project since 2020. It’s a non-profit organization that works to improve jail conditions across the state.

Sheriff Larry Smith has contacted the Texas Rangers to conduct an investigation into the suicide.

RELATED STORY: Smith County inmate dies by suicide inside cell, sheriff says