Fifth SLO County Jail inmate dies

March 24, 2015
Sheriff Ian Parkinson

Sheriff Ian Parkinson


A 33-year-old man died on Tuesday shortly after deputies found the unresponsive inmate kneeling on the floor of his cell with his head on his cot. He is the fifth man to die while incarcerated in the San Luis Obispo County Jail in 14 months.

The deceased is not being named pending notification of his next of kin.

On March 18, the inmate was arrested for a probation violation and for being under the influence of a controlled substance. At the time of his death, he was housed in a cell that was under video surveillance.

At about 3 a.m., deputies discovered the unresponsive inmate and began to perform CPR. He was transported to a Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The investigation is ongoing and the sheriff’s department does not suspect wrongdoing. This is the fifth death the San Luis Obispo County Jail in 14 months.

On Jan. 23, 2014, Josey Meche, 28, died from a drug overdose after flailing on a concrete cell floor for more than 20 minutes, according to the coroner’s report. Until he stopped moving, deputies offered him no assistance.

In March 2014, Rudy Joseph Silva, 35, was discovered unconscious in his cell. He was transported to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center where he died of influenza and a staphylococcus infection four days later. Jail mates claim he was sick for several days with coughing fits, but did not receive the medical care he pleaded for until he was no longer conscious.

On May 30, 2014,Timothy Richard Janowicz, 29, was found dead in his cell. Several weeks later, the sheriff’s department sent out a press release saying that Janowicz died of a heroin overdose.

On Dec. 18, 2014,following more than a half dozen records requests, the sheriff’s department released both the autopsy and coroner’s report which describe bruises, gashes and multiple needle marks on Janowicz’ body. In addition, the coroners report says that jail staff had not seen Janowicz for 10 hours even though jail policy is to enter group cells every 30 minutes.

On Jan. 11, 2015, David Osborn, 63, of Morro Bay man died shortly after collapsing while waiting on a bench to see medical personnel. During his time in custody, Osborn regularly complained that his blood sugar was off and that he needed medical care.

As a result, the inmate death rate at the men’s jail, is more than three times the national average. During 2014, three men died in the men’s jail or .54 percent of inmates, while the nation average is .13 percent, according to Federal Bureau of Justice statistics data.

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Slo Sherriffs department has long been corrupt. Go on youtube and watch them force themselves on a guy’s property in Paso, steal his guns, and threaten him. Its all on video. The jail staff is just as bad as the deputies on patrol. 50 degrees in the holding cells, no blankets, stale soggy steamed bread and a tube of peanut butter for lunch. They do not care about the well-being of anyone in their. I got arrested once and I asked for a blanket and I was told to “shut the hell up and deal with it”. Horrible organization, just get arrested once and see for yourself!! Parkinson you are royal f—ing your department up on a daily basis. SMH

Hmmmm…solution? Don’t get arrested.

Before reaching any conclusions about how well the jail is being run we need CCN to obtain:

The inmate population for the last 48 months.

The total number of deaths during that period.

The inmate population for the previous 48 months (during Sheriff Hedges’s administration)

The total number of in custody deaths during that period.

We also have to factor in realignment and the fact that the county jails house a whole different “class” of prisoner than they did four years ago.

Then we can determine if the in custody death rate is unusually high.

If it is, then I would not be surprised to find inattentiveness among the jail staff charged with the care and custody of the prisoners as being a contributory cause.

Hopefully, Sheriff Parkinson will fix that, if in fact it is true, instead of doing his usual “window dressing” for public consumption.

Ian needs to do a little less male modeling at local fashion shows and a little more “sheriffing” at the county jail that he is responsible for.

If the deaths continue and the rates are out of line the Board of Supervisors might want to remove the jail from his responibilities and create it as its own stand alone department under the supervision of the county CAO.

Perhaps you don’t bother to read the entire article?

“As a result, the inmate death rate at the men’s jail, is more than three times the national average. During 2014, three men died in the men’s jail or .54 percent of inmates, while the nation average is .13 percent, according to Federal Bureau of Justice statistics data.”

It doesn’t matter what happened under Sheriff Hedges terms, it doesn’t matter how many inmates there are now or were then, as reported, it is about the percentages. We currently have an inmate death rate while incarcerated at three times the national average. I don’t care if all of the inmates are struggling with addiction issues or not, a death rate this high is completely inexcusable, period. Sheriff Parkinson should step up, fire or reassign some of his staff and take this situation as serious as a heart attack. He needs to make a public announcement of what he is doing to change this situation, and the Grand Jury should step up and start an investigation. This should not stand.


It is important to note how many people died in the jail during the administration of the previous sheriff. This is because, it is my understanding, there have been changes in how the jail is managed and staffed since the Hedges administration was in office.

The staff in the jail are not deputy sheriffs. They don’t have the same amount of training or experience that the deputy sheriffs we see on patrol have. In fact until a few years ago they were called correctional officers not deputies. At the time that Sheriff Hedges was in office the jail was managed by a deputy sheriff who held the rank of Chief Deputy. it is my understanding that when Parkinson came into office he eliminated that Chief Deputy position and replaced it with a correctional captain. That captain’s position was filled from within the ranks of the correctional deputies. I think it is very possible that the change in management and perhaps the quality of managers in the jail has had a role in the number of deaths that have occurred in the jail during previous sheriffs administrations.

It is important to understand how many people died in the jail during previous sheriff’s when the jail was managed by an actual deputy sheriff who held the rank of chief. There may have been more accountability back when the jail staff was not managed by “one of their own”, but rather by a street cop who had promoted up the chain of command.

With bureaucrats, I am always looking for the backstory.

Is this a precursor for pitch to upgrade the facilities at Kansas Ave.? The next step might be Ian bringing his handsome self before the camera to ask for funding for jail upgrades and more staffing.

How much is it going to cost us to protect another junkie from ODing in custody? Is the money better spent there, or for some program that benefits law abiders?

So 100% of people are in jail because they have a problem and a very small percentage actuallay die there. Guess what, for those who have worked hard to die, jail offers better comfort than the streets. I would expect a higher number than 5 deaths in 14 months, therefore jail must have saved many lives. I would not support adding in house hospital staff to the county jail.

There is a greater need to accept respect and allow those who have died to rest in peace.

Your arguement is a red herring and presumably advanced to protect Parkinson. The real issue here is that there is mismanagement going on.

State prison reallignment funding was supposed to go into a multiprong effort to stop the revolving door. Monies were supposed to go to jail oversight, probation oversight and drug rehab efforts.

Word has it that Parkinson used the money to buy new shiny police cars.

Keep in mind that Parkinson could not keep his own fiscal house in order.

Make no mistake, I will typically side with law enforcement. As for Parkinson, he has an elected post and the public as a whole will be the judge. I know very little of what his day to day issues are and I am grateful that his kind are willing to handle the task. FYI your suspicions are just that, I invite you to be a volunteer.

Another junkie. Who cares?

So sad that you think “junkies” lives have no value. Many people who use illegal drugs and

become addicted started off with a mental illness that they did not know how to handle

and get help for. It could be schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression. They turned to drugs

or alcohol in an attempt to minimize the symptoms they were experiencing, perhaps because they had no

health insurance or support from loved ones. These mental illnesses are most often organic

based and

these people did not ask for their mental illness anymore than someone asks for cancer.

It is sad to know

there are those like you out there who have no compassion or care for a fellow human being.

Perhaps your lack of empathy is because you have a personality disorder like

antisocial personality disorder or

narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. The signs and symptoms

of a personality disorder is an inability to have empathy or compassion and an inability

to care about others. Perhaps you should see a qualified psychiatrist and get

a diagnosis. Although personality disorders are more difficult to treat than mental illnesses,

you may be able to improve your quality of life. It is very sad to be a person who does not feel

empathy for others. My hope for you is to get help.

Like many of your comments achillesheal, “Who cares?”

Your life is of equal value with this “junkie”, not a cent more. How you feel is irrelevant.

Oh Ian, this is really lookin’ bad dude!

SLO County has a killer jail!

To be fair-what is going on at other jails?

It does seem like 5 deaths in 14 months is too much. But the streets are crazy bizarre.

Politicians, big and small, have no f&#@ing idea.