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Washington authorities try to determine how long inmate was dead inside cell

Authorities in Washington are trying to determine how long a prison inmate was dead inside his cell at the Washington State Reformatory, HeraldNet.com reported.

Jerry L. Jamison, 48, was serving time for drug crimes and eluding police, the report said. He was found dead in his cell on Sunday morning. When his body was discovered, it was reportedly cold and rigid. Authorities said Jamison died from "dilated cardiomyopathy," a heart disease, sometime within a 37 hour time frame, the report said.

State prison officials are trying to determine why it took so long for Jamison to be discovered. Staff reportedly believed he was sleeping and at one point and at one point a corrections even put mail on the foot of his bed, the report said.

Checking on sleeping inmates can be difficult. If an officer wakes up an inmate, the inmate can reportedly claim harassment. A Department of Corrections spokesman called these checks "a delicate balance."

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