Jail Jim McDonnell LASD

Four LA County Jail Deaths in 10 Days

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

Since March 1, four inmates in Los Angeles County jails have died. None of the deaths, which occurred at three different jails, appear to be the result of foul play. The latest death appears to have been a suicide.

Advocates are troubled by the wave of deaths, however, considering the county’s history of neglect and misconduct within the jails. There were a total of 21 and 20 jail fatalities in 2015 and 2016, respectively—averaging out to 1.7 deaths per month.

On March 1, a 64-year-old man, who had been arrested the previous week for possession of meth, was found “unresponsive” at Twin Towers and declared dead 24 minutes later.

On March 3, a 43-year-old man arrested for a parole violation was found unresponsive at North County Correctional Facility, and was declared dead an hour later.

Two days later, on March 5, a 72-year-old man arrested for a battery charge was found on the floor of his Men’s Central Jail cell during a 2:20a.m. security check. The man was treated for a head injury, and was scheduled to go to the hospital. At 5:50a.m., staff found the man “not breathing” while sitting in a wheelchair outside of the jail nursing station. He was pronounced dead 48 minutes after that.

Then, last Thursday, a 48-year-old Twin Towers inmate charged with robbery died at the hospital. He had been placed on life support after being found unresponsive in his cell with his shirt around his head.

Any death that occurs behind bars “should raise a lot of questions,” SoCal ALCU’s Esther Lim told KPCC’s Frank Stoltze, who broke the story. “It’s hard to know what really happened to these people.” Lim monitors overcrowding, violence, and other issues within LA’s jails for the ACLU. (In 2011, Lim watched two LASD deputies beat an unconscious inmate at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, while repeatedly ordering the inmate to “stop fighting” and “stop resisting.”)

A 2016 wrongful death lawsuit also raises questions about conditions in a Los Angeles County’s women’s jail. Unique Moore, a 37-year-old mentally ill and asthmatic inmate woke up and couldn’t breathe early one morning in November 2014, and called desperately for her medical inhaler, which she was not permitted to keep in her cell. After she died, sheriff’s department officials said jail deputies did all they could. Inmate witnesses and a lawsuit filed by Moore’s parents say otherwise. (Read Art Levine’s investigation into Moore’s death for WitnessLA.)

In 2015, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell agreed to provide better health care to inmates, in addition to increasing the frequency of welfare checks on inmates. The changes were part of a settlement agreement between the US Department of Justice and the county regarding the treatment of mentally ill inmates.

The sheriff’s department says it is “working diligently and collaboratively with our Department of Justice partners to come into full compliance with 69 provisions of a multi-year settlement agreement.”

The LA Coroner’s Office will investigate and determine the causes of each of the March deaths.

Head over to KPCC for the rest of the story.

4 Comments

  • Really? Check with the Center for Disease Control. Winter and Spring are seasons that see spikes in people dying from all kinds of problems. The jails are filled with people that have all kinds of problems. Yes, the Department will look at them, but this is not any indication of malpractice by the Department.

  • People die all the time, whether at home or in hospitals or homeless on the street. Just because folks go to jail doesn’t mean there’s a silver built or pixie dust that is going to detect and cure their ills. It seems like folks just continue to reach out and attack LASD and exploit US Constitutional protections, slanted media and puplic opinion to intimidate, mis-educate jury pools and make it easier for the legal sharks to draw blood. It’s like a form of extortion…scare and implicitly threaten folks so their afraid to fight back so they will cave in and roll over. The sharks will just keep chomping off a bleeding carcass I guess.

  • You guys are so cynical. Inmates enter a state of well being when they are in jail. They simply can’t die or the social justice warriors will smell a rat. “Charge all the deputies with murder!” they will chant.

    OK, back to reality. A 64-year-old meth head is like a normal 85-year-old person. We all know that street miles age these crooks a ton. People die – get over it. In a jail population of 19,000 on the average day, they are concerned about 4. Really?

    Wanna be concerned about the people who protect this country instead of those who prey upon it for a change instead? Our returning military veterans kill themselves at a rate of 20 per day. http://www.militarytimes.com/story/veterans/2016/07/07/va-suicide-20-daily-research/86788332/

    BTW, deputies do a stellar job protecting those who would, AND DO, kill them any time they get the chance.

  • Ms. Walker do yourself a favor. Why don’t you go work a few shifts at Men’s Central Jail or any of these jails that these inmates died. You might have a different perspective regarding how much work the deputies are doing and how the keep the big machine running. Try looking from the inside out. The you can make an honest assessment of the jail.

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