Inmate David Ligon (Full Name: David Lee Ligon) Died From An Apparent Drug Overdose At Santa Barbara County’s Northern Branch Jail

SANTA MARIA, CALIFORNIA (July 9, 2023) – An inmate identified as David Ligon has died after a suspected drug overdose at Santa Barbara County’s Northern Branch Jail.

Santa Barbara County officials are saying that the inmate was initially booked into the jail on May 27. A deputy and WellPath medical staff were conducting medical checkups on inmates in the B-Unit of the jail.

David Ligon did not respond to the check in procedure so the deputy and medical staff entered his cell. They found him unresponsive and not breathing.

The deputies and WellPath staff began life-saving measures including administering two rounds of Narcan and performing CPR. An automated external defibrillator (AED) was also used.

Paramedics continued life-saving measures, but David Ligon did not recover and was pronounced dead before being transported to a hospital. It was the second in-custody death at the Santa Barbara County’s Northern Branch Jail in under a week.

A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.


Liability For Santa Barbara County Inmate Deaths

Far too many inmates die in custody every year in ways that are totally preventable. According to the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, “Drug overdose deaths, primarily from opioids, rose nearly 30% from December 2019 to December 2020, reaching an all-time […] high of 92,183. Drug/alcohol overdose is the third leading cause of death in jails, following illness and suicide.” Moreover, the risk of death by drug overdose is much higher even after a person is released from prison. There are a number of measures that jails should take in order to prevent inmate overdose deaths.

  • Jails should do everything that they can to prevent illegal narcotics from entering the jail.
  • Correctional officers should perform regular wellness checks on the inmates in their care.
  • Correctional officers should be trained to understand the symptoms associated with a drug overdose.
  • Inmates should get a thorough health evaluation before they are admitted.

Jails must provide a reasonably safe environment for inmates. This includes taking steps to prevent illicit drugs from entering the jail that could harm inmates. When an inmate is in medical distress, they must receive adequate care. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could create liability on their part. Jails should not wait until an inmate is in medical distress. If they have knowledge that a certain inmate needs care to stay healthy, they must act. There are many steps that should be taken after any suspected in-custody overdose death.

  • The source of the drugs that contributed to the overdose should be determined.
  • All records related to the incident should be reviewed.
  • Surveillance footage related to the event should be examined.
  • An experienced civil rights advocate should be consulted.

Inmates have rights that are guaranteed by the constitution. But far too often those rights are overlooked and trampled on. There are several counties across California that are notorious for failing to protect the rights of inmates. The family of any person that dies while in custody may be able to hold the jail they were in accountable through a civil claim. It is crucial that evidence is preserved after any in-custody death. Evidence is what will ultimately be needed to demonstrate liability for any death.


Investigating Inmate Deaths At Santa Barbara County’s Northern Branch Jail

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of David Ligon. This is the second suspected overdose death at this jail in a short period of time. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what went wrong. It is our sincere hope that measures are taken to preserve the constitutional rights of inmates at this location.

Do you need more information about an in-custody death at Santa Barbara County’s Northern Branch Jail? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We are committed to helping victims of jail neglect and holding government bodies accountable for their negligence. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we are here for you. You can contact our office anytime at (949) 825-5200.


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