Gloria Rubac of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement visited Texas death row this weekend and learned that Selwyn Davis had committed suicide. Davis had been sentenced to death in an Austin courtroom. Gloria wrote on Facebook:
It was with great sadness that I found out today about another suicide on Texas death row. An African American man named Selwyn Davis from Austin killed himself a few days ago. He had apparently accumulated a bunch of pills of some kind and then took them all at once. He had tried to kill himself earlier this year by cutting his wrists and throat with razor blades. But they were very dull and he didn’t die.
I hold the TDCJ responsible for his death. They house all men on death row, including those with perfect disciplinary records, in total isolation, denying all human contact.
Psychiatrist Terry Kupers, an expert on long-term isolated prison confinement, is the author of numerous articles on the subject as well as his book titled, “Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It.” He says this about isolation– it causes:
— severe anxiety;
— panic attacks;
— irrational anger, at time uncontrollable;
— social withdrawal;
— memory loss;
— appetite loss;
— delusions and hallucinations;
— profound despair and hopelessness;
— suicidal thoughts;
— paranoia; and
— for many, a totally dysfunctional state and inability ever to live normally
outside of confinement.”
Today the Austin American-Statesman also found out about the death and reported on it:
Selwyn P. Davis, sentenced to death by a Travis County jury for the 2006 Austin murder of his girlfriend’s mother, was found dead in his cell on Texas’ death row last week, according to a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Corrections officers conducting routine security checks found Davis, 30, unresponsive on the floor of his cell about 9 p.m. Friday, spokesman Jason Clark wrote in an email.
“Staff began life saving measures, called 911, and took the offender to the unit infirmary,” Clark wrote. “An ambulance then transported Davis to Livingston Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced deceased by an attending physician at 10:04 pm.”
Clark said the cause of death is unknown and that the department’s Office of Inspector General will investigate the death, which is routine.
Davis stabbed Regina Lara to death in her 38 1/2 Street apartment on Aug. 22, 2006.