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!
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
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.)
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.)