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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Hastings

Woman Who Died While In Custody Was Being Held On Cash Bail For Failing To Appear

MANCHESTER, NH — Manchester fire and AMR ambulance have responded multiple times to the Hillsborough County House of Corrections in the last 48 hours.

Several dispatches were for possible overdoses and one for a cardiac arrest. On Monday, four women were taken to local hospitals for what was described as possible overdoses.

Monday morning, Superintendent Joseph Costanzo announced that a 40-year-old woman had died in jail.

Hillsborough County Department of Corrections officers and medical staff responded to a medical emergency within the facility. Staff performed life-saving measures. However, Jessica Cook, 40, with no known home address, was pronounced dead later. Costanzo told the NH Union Leader that “no evidence of contraband was found in Cook’s cell."

After a preliminary review of the facts of this incident, the death is not deemed suspicious in nature, according to Costanzo.

Cook was being held on cash bail out of Hillsborough County Superior Court North on charges of failure to appear since June 15, 2023.

Cook has been arrested several times after an initial charges of felony drug possession and misdemeanor prescription possession in September. She failed to arrive at court in

for her scheduled arraignment in October and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

After she was located by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s located her and arrested her on the warrant she was released on personal recognizance. She failed to show up to court for her next scheduled date and another warrant was issued for her arrest,

Cook was located and arrested in April and released again on personal recognizance. Following the April arrest she failed to appear in court for a May court date, and another warrant was issued. After being arrested on the warrant she was released on personal recognizance.

On June 15th she was arrested again and Honorable Judge William Delker ordered her to be held on $1,000 cash bail. She was unable to post bail and was being held at the jail waiting a court appearance when she was found dead.

In a press release Monday afternoon, Costanzo said the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections conducted targeted contraband sweeps following indications that drugs had been illegally smuggled into the facility. Today’s sweeps were an immediate response to suspected overdose incidents involving four to five inmates in the female housing unit.

Costanzo ordered the rapid deployment of the facility canine and correctional staff to search and sweep targeted areas to ensure the safety of inmates. He stated: “As the investigation continues, I would like to thank corrections and medical staff, for their swift and rapid response in identifying individuals in need of immediate assistance. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of the department’s canine unit.”

Costanzo also thanked the Manchester Police Department for providing insight on the deadly drugs currently being seen in the community. He cautioned those incarcerated against using drugs — noting his concern about saving lives in the facility. The investigation is ongoing.

©Jeffrey Hastings


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