- A Sacramento County Sheriff has had 6 inmates die under his watch this year, but his office only publicly announced 1 of those deaths.
- “So, in a jail, I would be more skeptical of ‘natural deaths’ and would want more information about them,” said Michele Deitch, an expert on jails and prisons.
- Only Los Angeles and Orange Counties, which both log much higher jail populations, have reported more inmate fatalities than Sacramento this year.
“The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office didn’t tell the public about the Feb. 26 death of Deyyj Watts. The 40-year-old Elk Grove man had been locked in the downtown jail for about a week before a blood clot traveled to his lung and killed him.
Ten days earlier, Sheriff Scott Jones’ staff also chose not to reveal that William Stevens had died after contracting COVID-19. They didn’t issue a press release about Jadmon Barrett’s death in April, or Karl Hutton’s jail death on Memorial Day weekend, either.
The Sheriff’s Office also failed to announce Darrell Paul’s death in January, once again bypassing a longstanding best practice around the country of informing the public when someone dies in law enforcement custody.
Despite six men dying in jail custody this year, a Sacramento Bee review found the Sheriff’s Office publicly announced just one of the fatalities — Timothy Noble, who died last month. Since the start of the pandemic, 10 people have died in Sacramento’s jails, including four men between August and December 2020.
Incarceration experts say notifying the public when someone dies in a jail should be a basic expectation, particularly during a pandemic. Failing to tell the public makes it harder for watchdogs and families to understand what’s going on inside the jails. It fuels distrust, particularly in an era when law enforcement practices are under scrutiny, they said…”
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