June 24, 2013

We must speak up for our close friend, Paul Mannina, who is unable to speak for himself.

Mr. Mannina was the Labor Department attorney found dead in a D.C. jail cell with his throat slashed. We thank The Post for the June 20 editorial “Death at the D.C. jail,” bringing to light the need for a thorough, transparent investigation since this is the second death at the jail in less than a year.

At a court hearing on June 17, a police detective testified that Mr. Mannina had been hospitalized in Montgomery County for a “change in his mental state”; this change followed an assault he was accused of committing and preceded his arrest and extradition to the District. The affidavit sworn by the complainant states that, at some point, Mr. Mannina said he had “cracked.” It was evident that his alleged actions were entirely out of character; the judge verbally noted that. What else was needed to recognize that Mr. Mannina needed immediate mental health intervention?

Low priority is often given to the basic needs of those incarcerated, whether before or after trial. Why was Mr. Mannina put into the general jail population? Why was a jail-issued razor found in his cell? 

It’s too late for our friend. We want answers not just for ourselves. We want answers that lead to actions that fix a broken system, and guarantee that others in the D.C. courts and prisons get their immediate mental health needs recognized and addressed.

Joe and Connie Maas, Silver Spring