Third inmate death is most since 2008 for Sacramento

With this morning’s suspected overdose of a 39-year-old woman arrested hours earlier on multiple drug charges, the Sacramento County jail system has tallied the most inmate deaths since 2008, when four people killed themselves while in custody.

The unidentified victim in this most recent incident was arrested shortly after 8 p.m. Monday in a south Sacramento neighborhood, where a city police cruiser was hailed and pointed to a home of alleged drug activity.

According to Sacramento Police Department logs, arriving officers were able to enter the Rotherton Way residence to conduct a probation search. Inside they found more than .11 grams of cocaine, nine grams of methamphetamine packaged and ready for sale, roughly $1,400 in cash and the 39-year-old, whom officers arrested.

While inside a holding cell in the female intake unit of the county’s main jail, authorities say the woman told deputies she was feeling ill as a result of ingesting a controlled substance. Custody staff notified emergency responders, who transported the inmate to a nearby hospital. But the woman would later lose consciousness, and was pronounced dead at the hospital at 3:18 a.m., about seven hours after police first contacted her.

The female inmate’s death marks the third in-custody fatality this year so far in Sacramento.

On March 20, Nathanuel Easlon, 33, was found dead in his cell at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in southern Elk Grove. Easlon had been booked into the facility nine days earlier on a parole violation, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department states.

Easlon, who was housed alone, showed no signs of trauma when custody staff discovered his body. His cause of death hasn’t been updated from the initial “undetermined” classification on the county coroner’s website. Following notification of his parents, Easlon’s body was released to Lowest Cost Cremation, the website shows.

On January 28, a 34-year-old Chowchilla man booked into jail on public intoxication charges hanged himself in his cell using a piece of clothing. The body of Israel Mendoza was discovered by a deputy conducting routine visual inspections at the downtown jail, the sheriff’s department said. Efforts to revive Mendoza proved unsuccessful.

While there’s no visible pattern in this year’s in-custody deaths, inmate suicides have been a concern in previous years.

Added prevention training and tier fencing at the jail have helped reduce instances of inmates taking their own lives, the Sacramento County Office of Inspector General said in its 2012 annual report. Including January’s hanging, there have been three in-custody suicides dating back to 2009.

The jail recorded four suicides apiece in 2008 and 2005, and seven such inmate deaths in 2002.

Authorities are withholding the identity of the 39-year-old woman from this morning’s incident until her family is notified.

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