Family: Formerly Suicidal Man Needs Help, Not Jail Time

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.


To say 22-year-old Kenny Smith made the decision to end his own life isn't exactly right. He tried to make Sacramento Police officers do it for him.

"At the time, when I did not want to exist on this earth, I didn't want to accept it," Smith told FOX40. "So I just wanted to try to put it in somebody else's hands."

Outside the county jail where FOX40 spoke with Smith, his family, members of his church and complete strangers gathered to say Smith is in the wrong place, that he doesn't need jail time, he needs help.

"He has a mental health issue. He's not a criminal. He was trying to commit suicide by cop and it didn't work," "Sistah Pat" Roundtree Rivers, co-pastor at For His Glory Church, said. "Thank God it didn't."

The way protesters and Smith's family see things, he isn't alone. In particular, they say the system of incarceration in California breeds mental illness but the state isn't equipped to treat it.

Debora Slay/mother "Kenny had just gotten out of prison. How he had been out here months. And how he had been suffering, not feeling worthy. Being paranoid. Very sad. Talked about ending his life," Smith's mother, Debora Slay, told FOX40.

FOX40 reached out to law enforcement to talk about Smith's story and mental illness among inmates, but did not hear back.