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Advocates call for additional resources following death of man held at Cumberland County Jail

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office says that 30-year-old James Mannion of Portland was found unresponsive in his cell on Sunday morning.

PORTLAND, Maine — Law enforcement in Southern Maine is investigating after another person being held at Cumberland County was found dead.

According to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, 30-year-old James Mannion of Portland was found unresponsive in his cell early Sunday morning.

A corrections officer was making rounds and discovered Mannion unresponsive in his cell. The officer reportedly called for help and attempted to revive Mannion with the help of medical staff at the jail and Portland MEDCU, but the efforts to revive him were not successful. 

RELATED: Deputies identify person who died in cell at Cumberland County Jail

Mannion's cause of death has not yet been determined, however advocates for those in jail and prison, as well as those who support individuals in recovery, are calling for increased resources inside of jails.

"We always hear from county officials and leaders across the state of Maine that jails are supposed to be a safe place. What we've seen in the last few months, in particular at the Cumberland County Jail, is that jails are not a safe place," Courtney Gary-Allen said. 

Gary-Allen serves as the organizing director of the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project (ME-RAP). 

Gary-Allen says she wants to see increased access to things like medication-assisted treatment, and mental health services inside of Maine jails and prisons.

"The recovery community is devastated by these losses. We lose many people in the community, and we're supposed to be able to trust the county jail to take care of people while they're inside, and they're obviously not capable of doing that," Gary-Allen said. 

Mannion's death is being investigated by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Department of Corrections and the Portland Police Department.

Mannion's death marks the fourth death of a person being held at Cumberland County Jail in 2022. There was also a death at York County jail in July. 

"How can we sort of help the person and create a therapeutic environment instead of a punishing one," founder of Recovery Connections of Maine, and volunteer with the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition Jeremy Hiltz said. 

"Returning somebody into our communities a better person makes sense. If people don't even get that opportunity to get out, it's not fair," Hiltz added.

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