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Rev. Lonnie D. Wesley III has plenty of questions but few answers. He wants to know why his brother died in the Escambia County Jail.

Wesley is still grieving his loss, but he also has another serious concern: His brother, Alfred Earl Wesley, 63, who died on Jan. 15, 2016, was the seventh inmate to die in the Pensacola, Florida jail since November 2014.

Six of the inmates, including Alfred Wesley, were black.

It’s a disturbing pattern for Rev. Wesley, who said he plans to keep the pressure on county officials to investigate the deaths.

“We cannot be numb to people dying in our jails,” Wesley, pastor of Greater Little Rock Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, told “This cannot be normal. This cannot be OK.”

Wesley said county officials initially ruled his brother’s death as natural causes, but since the full autopsy hasn’t been completed yet, Wesley is still waiting for all the facts in the case to emerge.

What Wesley does know is this: His brother was found unresponsive on Jan. 15, 2016 after he was arrested in December for trespassing.

Wesley said his brother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, a result of his tour in the Army dating back to the 1970s. His brother was prescribed medication for his condition, Wesley said, but when he didn’t take it, he experienced mental episodes.

Rev. Wesley’s crusade to find the truth extends beyond his brother’s questionable death.

“I want to do what I can to make sure Alfred is the last man to die unnecessarily in this jail,” Wesley said.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice released a study in 2015 that found 80 percent of America’s county jails report no deaths in any given year. Only about 6 percent of county jails in America have two or more deaths in a year, according to the study, but the Escambia County Jail reported seven deaths in the past two years,  a death almost every two months.

There are about 800 inmates in the Escambia County Jail, which has one medical doctor, a dentist and a mental health physician. So far, reports show three of the deaths were reported as suicides, and two others were related to medical issues.

The family of one of the dead inmates said they were stonewalled by jail officials and denied access to information.

Assistant County Administrator Chip Simmons told The Pensacola News Journal that he plans to be accessible to the family.

“If they have a concern about an inmate … I’m going to make myself available to the citizens, to the family, and to the friends,” Simmons told the newspaper. “So if they have a concern they don’t feel is being addressed by the county jail, they can come down to my office, we’ll discuss it and we’ll do the best that we can.”

But many in Pensacola are skeptical.

The Pensacola News Journal reported Escambia County commissioners voted last year to create a new medical director position at the jail and they also added an independent monitoring system to review the health care operations for inmates at the jail.

Wesley, however, said too many inmates have already died in the jail. He said he was reminded of a remark from a family friend: Silence is consent.

So Wesley intends to remain vocal.

“We have to call attention to what’s happening here in Pensacola, Florida,” Wesley said. “We’ve had 7 people to be found dead in this jail and that’s a problem.”

The deaths of inmates at the Escambia County Jail should be thoroughly investigated. Rev. Wesley — and all the families involved — deserve honest accounts of how their loved ones died.

And they shouldn’t have to twist arms to get it.

What do you think?


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7 thoughts on “What’s Going On In Pensacola’s Escambia County Jail?

  1. Sondra Morgan on said:

    I’m a frim believer in having to pay for what you do and the choices you make in life but we are still talking about humam beings most people downing criminal have never had anyone they loved in jail or ever been in jail we all make bad choices in life LLET HIM WITHOUT SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE IS IN JAIL DOESN’T MEAN THAT THAT SHOULDN’T GET MEDICAL ADENTION. I THINK ALOT OF INMATES ARE THERE BECAUSE THE COULDN’T GET THE MEDICINE THEY NEEDED IN THE FREE WORLD. I PRAY FOR EACH INMATE IN ALL JAILS AND PRISONS. THAT ALOT OF DEATHS NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE THINKS. GOD HAVE MERCY ON US ALL.

  2. Timothy Green on said:

    This article doesnt provide enough information about the prison deaths for folks to make assumptions one way or another, medical & mental health hx of all the prisoners that died, if the prisoners complained to staff of not feeling well prior to their deaths, etc etc… Saying that 7 inmates 6 black have died doesnt really do much besides make narrow minded people automatically make it a race thing

  3. Common Sense on said:

    Has mental issues and, according to the story, does go off his meds from time to time. That’s his fault. As is ending up in jail. As a society, the focus should be on why is it viewed as being acceptable for so many to commit crimes in the first place? I guess the racists will blame the jail or the judicial system instead of holding those who committed the crime accountable.

  4. Jeffery Humbles on said:

    I continue to say when you will not fight for others God will but the battle on your doorstep. I told Wesley in 2008, 2009 2010 that you cannot be silent. You must stand up and be counted for the community but he said he does not do politics and now politics is doing him. I don’t want to seem insensitive but when you won’t ask these questions for others, especially as a pastor of one the bigger churches of the community and others have suffered the same fate for many years and you have done nothing and now you have questions. Be not deceived God is not mocked, whatsoever a man sows he shall reap. I said to Wesley, The May brothers, Miller and all the preachers at First West Florida Ministers Association that they needed to stand up and be counted in the community and now because it has happened to him he has questions. But others have had the same questions for years. Over 25 black people died at the Escambia County Jail since 2000. They average 2 to 3 a year of inmates that die at the jail and not one Escambia officer has even been charged or even considered for charges and after every death, whatever agency investigated always said the officers operated properly and did nothing wrong. So I hope this wakes up the preachers in Pensacola. But there are so many apostles, prophets and prophetesses that it is a shame none of them can see any of these death in the future and do something. So if you keep doing what you are doing and you will keep getting what you are getting.

  5. Abuella on said:

    Always has to be about race. Not all the prisoners were black. Coroners reports don’t happen overnight. Investigations take time if they are done right. Did the family visit him while he was in prison and if not, why? Do they love him now in the hopes of a paycheck? How old was this prisoner? Did he have prior medical issues that went untreated while he wasn’t in jail? If so, was he compliant with treatment?

  6. Honestly on said:

    This evil and depraved racist white country has to be destroyed. These cave n!@@ers have been killing us like deer since they brought our ancestors here in bondage. I pray to GOD to give us the means to vanquish these demented bastards. They should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

  7. that’s true , if they have nothing to hide , then allow the truth to be bought out into the open , just the fact that they all were black is enough, but more then one is to many , our pple ought to be tired of saying im tired of this shit , just like the detention center thaty they closed down , and went back and dug up bodies of those kids buried on that property, no one has said anything else about that either . stand up people …. get tired of being tired .

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