I was disturbed by the reader who made a cruel, insensitive comment about the man who hanged himself in the Barton County Jail earlier this week. The comment was one of many made after I criticized the Sheriff's Department for not releasing the man's name and the Joplin Globe and the TV stations for going along with this decision.
Again, I will note that I have sympathy for the family. I cannot imagine having to go through such a situation, but you are setting a dangerous precedent when you allow any elected official to withhold information to spare someone's feelings.
If it can be done in this instance (and apparently it can) then who is to say it will not be done in some other situation in which someone will suffer. These decisions should not and cannot be left up to elected officials.
When you refuse to release information, all you do is encourage more talking about the situation. Get the facts out, and the buzz will generally die down quickly.
Rayma Bekebrock Davis, editor of The Lamar Democrat, joined the news media members who accepted Sheriff Shannon Higgins' decision without even a mild protest.
The article mentioned that the inmate "talked about being suicidal) during the first couple of days he was in jail, and then was placed on special watch with any item taken away which he might use to harm himself. He asked for a blanket, was given one and hanged himself with it.
The media's job is to get out the information, the who, what, when, where, why, and how. As far as the who is concerned, the area media fell short.