“She shouldn’t have been there” family speaks after loved one found dead in Sumter jail cell

Published: Sep. 9, 2023 at 10:06 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - New details have been released in connection to a Sumter County woman who died while in custody at the Sumter Regional Detention Center.

26-year-old Hosanna Dinkins was found unresponsive in a cell alone at the jail. Jail officials say Dinkins was being held there on a probate order while waiting to be transported to a mental health facility.

Dinkins was not facing any criminal charges.

26-year-old Hosanna Dinkins was found unresponsive in a cell by herself here at the Sumter Lee Regional Detention Center. Officials say staff workers worked to revive her but their efforts were unsuccessful.

“Her whole future got caught off,” Hosea Dinkins, Hosanna’s father.

Hosea Dinkins remembers his daughter as a bright young woman with a bright future.

“She was a humble person. She never hurt nobody and she was always a happy child. You can tell from her pictures; she was always smiling,” said Hosanna’s sister Barbara Dinkins.

She had a smile that was contagious her sister describes, but she says behind that smile was a lot of pain.

“She’d get frustrated and got violent with things that she couldn’t do. She couldn’t drive her car, couldn’t do nothing,” said Dinkin’s father.

Family members say Dinkins was diagnosed with schizophrenia, major depression, and suicidal thoughts.

“She was a danger to herself because she was trying to commit suicide. What [Dinkins father] told me was that she was trying to jump out of the window,” explained Benita Robison.

Looking for help, Dinkins’ father went to a judge saying she needed to be in a mental health facility.

“I told the judge. She don’t know nothing. Who she is or anything. She don’t know her name anything. So, I dont think she had no right here to start with. She should’ve been in a hospital that same day I took her to the judge,” said Dinkins’ father.

According to jail officials, Dinkins was sent to jail on a probate order on June 28th. The order stated that she remain there until she could be transferred to a facility through the Department of Mental Health. \

Dinkins father said he was told it would only take 13 days but 13 days turned into more than 30 days until Dinkins died in her cell on August 23rd. A preliminary autopsy from the Sumter County coroner rules out suicide as a cause of death and also shows no foul play.

Robinson says, “She should not have been detained here.”

Benita Robinson is the Cousin to Hosanna Dinkins and also works with the Racial Justice Network. She says her cousin’s situation is similar to many that are housed at the facility.

She says, “None of them should be waiting on a mental health bed. This is not the facility for that. The detention center is designed for criminals.”

“It’s kind of up to the probate office. We just receive them when they come. So, I wouldn’t say it’s very often,” said Patricia Ray.

Patricia Ray is the director at the Sumter Lee Regional Detention Center. She says right now there are 15 people being housed at the detention center awaiting transfer to a mental health facility and there’s usually no timetable of when that transfer will happen.

Ray says, “Sometimes it takes some long but it varies because we’re competing with all agencies in the state of South Carolina for a bed. So it varies.”

But she also says those 15 people waiting for a bed are also facing criminal charges and Dinkins was not.

Dinkins’ father says he wasn’t able to see her while she was locked away. WIS News 10 asked jail officials about that, and they told me they do allow visits only with the detainees’ permission.

The Sumter County Coroner says they are waiting on toxicology reports for an exact cause of death. That’ll take about six to eight weeks before those results are ready.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.