Cynthia Rizalla, of Oxnard, Died Following Medical Emergency At Todd Road Jail In Ventura County
SANTA PAULA, CALIFORNIA (July 27, 2023) – An inmate identified as Cynthia Rizalla has tragically died following a medical emergency in her cell at the Todd Road Jail in Santa Paula.
Ventura County officials are saying that the incident took place around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. Deputies who were performing welfare checks noticed that Cynthia Rizalla was suffering from some type of medical emergency in her cell.
Deputies and medical staff entered the jail cell and began life-saving measures. Despite life-saving measures, Cynthia Rizalla was pronounced dead.
A full investigation into the in-custody death remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For Ventura County Inmate Deaths
Thousands of inmates die in custody every year. Within California, a disproportionate number of these deaths are occurring in Ventura County. According to one grand jury, Ventura County jails are not doing enough to prevent inmate deaths. The 27-page document highlights multiple failures at two jails in particular. The grand jury argued that medical personnel were focused on being reactive to medical emergencies, rather than proactive and working to prevent them in the first place. They also argued that jail staff were not using recommended best practices for preventing jail suicides. Preventing inmate deaths requires a coordinated effort.
- It should be determined if inmates have any dangerous substances in their system as they are being booked in.
- Inmates should get a thorough physical and mental health screening. The majority of inmates entering the prison system have major trauma in their past.
- Correctional officers should perform periodic welfare checks on inmates.
- Inmates should receive proper healthcare and follow ups for the duration of their stay.
All inmates have a constitutional right to receive reasonably adequate healthcare. This includes medical care that may be required if an inmate took illicit drugs. It also includes mental healthcare. Far too often, inmate deaths are due to jail neglect. Correctional officers may ignore the advice of nurses or doctors. They could also ignore the pleas of inmates who are suffering. But even if an inmate does not say that they need medical help, jail officials must help inmates who are showing clear and obvious signs of deteriorating health.
Consider, for example, the in-custody treatment of Juan Isaac Garza. He is schizophrenic and had a history of mental health struggles. During his time in jail he had a seizure and sustained a traumatic brain injury. Attorneys for the inmate argued that his injury was brought on by the jails failure to provide adequate monitoring and treatment while he was locked up. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors eventually reached a settlement over the incident. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any in-custody death.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- All medical records for the inmate involved should be reviewed.
- The actions of correctional officers leading up to the death should be understood.
- An experienced civil rights advocate should be contacted.
Jail deaths can be prevented when the right practices and procedures are being followed. Far too often, correctional officers will only seriously help inmates after they’ve already gone into medical distress. But by the time this happens, it is already too late for many people. The family of any person that died in jail may be able to seek some measure of justice through a constitutional claim. A civil rights advocate can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Inmate Deaths At The Todd Road Jail
We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Cynthia Rizalla. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. It is our sincere hope that there is more oversight for jails in Ventura County.
Do you need more information about an inmate death at the Todd Road Jail? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that inmates are aware of their rights and that jails are held to account for their neglect. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.