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In memory of Joanie Holmes, John Banks, Kenneth Allen Stra, Drue Harris, Carolyn Telzrow, Phillip Medina, Barry Rogers and Paul Daniel, we demand ...

Justice in the Jail!

The Sonoma County Jail has become a death house. Three inmates died in the custody in the last year alone — this in addition to the five inmate deaths in a nine-month period in 1997/98. In every one of these cases, we believe competent supervision and medical care could and should have saved the inmate's life.

Paul Daniel died on 9/28/00 under mysterious circumstances. The official story: when found on the cell floor by correctional officers, Daniel "became combative and had to be restrained." He was then taken to booking where he began vomiting and died soon after. Inmates tell another story that overwhelmingly, inmates inside think Daniel was beaten to death. Whether or not this proves to be true, the fact that the inmates think it's true makes the jail a very dangerous place for inmates and cor-rectional officers alike. And the fact that correctional officers involved are refusing to cooperate with Santa Rosa police officers investigating the death only raises the suspicion level.

Barry Alan Rogers died on 7/19/00 after cutting his own throat with a razor. Other inmates say Rogers was disoriented and asking for mental health attention. Soon after being incarcerated, Rogers' mother died; still he wasn't put on suicide watch. Some jail employees admit Rogers' death was due to a "classification error."

Phillip Medina - Died in SoCo Jail 1/7/2000
Phillip Medina 1/7/00

Phillip Tony Medina died 1/7/00, just hours after being moved to Community Hospital from the jail. Jail officials say Medina died of the flu, yet there's no mention of flu in any of his medical records. On the form authorizing Medina's move to the hospital, the jail's Dr. Hibbard noted "3 days with malaise & chest pains." By the time Phillip Medina was admitted to the hospital, he had infection throughout his body and his organs were beginning to fail. (For more on Phillip Medina's death see Another Jail Inmate Dies.)

Caroly Telzrow - Died 3/9/98
Carolyn Telzrow 3/9/98

Carolyn Telzrow, when booked into the jail on petty theft charges, was removed from the high dosage of methadone prescribed for her constant horrific pain resulting from a broken back. Driven to distraction by the pain, she too spent the day on the phone begging friends and family to get medical intervention. Finally in desperation, she hanged herself in her cell in the infirmary on 3/9/98 less than 2 weeks after Drue Harris's almost identical death.


Drue Harris 2/24/98

On 2/24/98, Drue Harris allegedly committed suicide, somehow hanging himself from a low bunk bed in his cell in the jail infirmary. Though jail officials claim Drue seemed calm, family and friends report receiving desperate, hysterical calls from Drue on the day of his death. Drue's mom reported his distress to jail officials, saying she feared he was suicidal. The next thing she knew, her son was dead.

On 11/3/97, Kenny Stra became the third heroin addict to die in custody in just five months. As anyone familiar with drug treatment can tell you, people do not normally die from drug withdrawal. Since the jail's medical doctor at that time was also head of the county's methadone treatment program, he of all people knew how to handle withdrawal without killing people.

John Banks died 10/28/97, just six hours after being released from five days in the jail. Banks was also an addict and was reportedly not given medical treatment for his abrupt withdrawal.

Joanie Holmes died in the jail on 6/4/97, after her arrest on outstanding warrants. A heroin addict, Joanie was violently ill for the two days of her incarceration. She and other inmates repeatedly begged for a medic. Instead guards ridiculed Joanie, and the doctor refused to see her when she was too sick to go downstairs to be examined. Within hours, Joanie Holmes was dead. DA Mike Mullins' office ruled there was no negligence, while refusing to interview inmates who wanted to submit testimony about what they'd seen. (For more on Joanie Holmes' death see Prostitution is Not a Capital Crime.)


© Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
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