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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 16th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 46

Inmate dies in Santa Barbara County Jail

By Chris McGuinness

The Santa Barbara County Jail reported its first inmate death of 2019, after a 52-year-old died of an undisclosed medical condition.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office officials reported that the inmate, identified as Jose A. Curiel of Santa Maria, died shortly after 7 p.m. on Jan. 10 at an area hospital. 

Curiel was transported from the jail to the hospital at approximately 7:50 p.m. on Jan. 5 due to a medical condition, and later died of complications related to that condition. A Sheriff's Office spokesperson declined to comment more specifically on Curiel's condition, citing medical privacy laws.

Curiel was booked into the jail on Feb. 20, 2018, on charges of domestic violence, criminal threats to terrorize, and stalking, as well as two other additional warrants. 

The Santa BarbaraCounty Jail reported that 52-year-old inmate Jose A. Curiel of Santa Maria died due to complications from a medical condition on Jan. 10, according to Sheriff’s Office officials.

Curiel's death marked the first reported inmate death at the jail for 2019. In 2018, the jail experienced a total of two inmate deaths: Alexander Ricardo Braid, 45, of Goleta, who committed suicide in the jail on July 5, 2018, and Henry Acuna, 60, of Santa Barbara, who died in March of the same year. Sheriff's officials said Acuna suffered from "chronic medical issues."

According to data collected by the Sun, the jail has experienced a total of 23 inmate deaths since 2000. At least 14 of those deaths were ruled as natural, with many of those inmates suffering from one or more chronic medical conditions. Jail conditions, including medical care for inmates has long been a public concern, prompting the jail to replace the private company that formerly administered health care at the facility. Those same concerns also sparked a federal lawsuit from Disability Rights California in 2017.

"This [recent death] underscores the fact that there are lots of people in the jail with treatment needs, and they are extremely vulnerable," said Aaron Fischer, litigation counsel for Disability Rights California.

The lawsuit is ongoing, but Fischer said the county has been working with the organizations to address concerns and make improvements at the jail, including reforming its medical services.

"To the Sheriff's Office's credit, they have tried to work with us to improve conditions, but they are not there yet," he said. "I'm hopeful that in the coming months, they will make many more changes."

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