LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Authorities are investigating the second death in two days of an inmate at the Men’s Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles.
The death was reported at 10:54 p.m. Wednesday at the jail’s inmate reception center at 450 Bauchet St., said Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. No details about the latest death were immediately released.
There were no details about the inmate’s death immediately available. It followed the death of an inmate who died after being pepper-sprayed to end his alleged assault on a cellmate.
An autopsy is still pending for 31-year-old Juan Correa Jr., who was pronounced dead around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday after becoming unconscious in the shower while decontaminating from the pepper spray, authorities said.
A deputy was conducting a security check inside a housing module when he heard an inmate — later identified as Correa — inside one of the cells yelling, said Deputy Trina Schrader. While investigating the disturbance, the deputy saw Correa begin to assault his cellmate, Schrader said.
The deputy ordered Correa to stop, but his commands were ignored, and deputies used pepper spray on him and handcuffed him, Schrader said. Correa was then escorted to the shower area for decontamination where he lost consciousness, Schrader said.
His cellmate suffered minor injuries in the assault and was treated by jail medical staff, she said.
This comes after a protest Tuesday in which dozens of people in orange T-shirts set up jail beds in the 500 block of Temple Street just outside Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, the headquarters of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The protest, organized by JusticeLA — a coalition of more than 40 community organizations — was against a plan to expand the county’s jails. The group submitted a draft motion to the board asking that a moratorium on jail construction.
The board is expected to move forward with a years-long plan to construct a 3,885-bed downtown Los Angeles jail that would replace the dilapidated Men’s Central Jail, along with a renovation the vacant Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster into a 1,600-bed women’s jail. The Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility carries a price tag of about $2.2 billion, while converting the Mira Loma detention center in Lancaster to a women’s jail is estimated to cost $137 million.
Los Angeles has the largest county jail system in the nation. As of this week, there were 17,460 inmates in county jails, which have a state-rated capacity of 12,537, according to a count provided by the Sheriff’s Department, which manages overcrowding by releasing offenders who are sentenced to a year or less behind bars after they’ve served 10 percent of their term.
JusticeLA called for a working group to look at how new laws — including those that reduce criminal penalties, allow early release for non- violent crimes and fund the fight against homelessness — will affect the future demand for jail beds. The group urged the county to work toward cutting the jail population by half by 2022.
JusticeLA released a statement Thursday that read, in part:
“When someone is arrested and put in jail, their health and wellbeing falls into the hands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It’s unacceptable for anyone to die while in the custody of the Sheriff’s Department but to have two deaths in two days only proves our point that Los Angeles doesn’t need to build new jails–they can’t run the ones they have now without inmates constantly coming up dead on their watch. The Los Angeles County jail is the nation’s largest and at least nine inmates have died this year on their watch and in their custody. Last year there were 20 inmate deaths reported, and in 2015, there were 21.”
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