Inmate Derek Valentine Died In Custody At John Latorraca Correctional Center In Merced

MERCED, CALIFORNIA (October 8, 2023) – A man identified as Derek Valentine has tragically died in custody at John Latorraca Correctional Center at Sandy Mush Road in Merced.

Merced County officials are saying that the incident took place around 9:50 p.m. on Thursday. Correctional officers noticed that Derek Valentine was unresponsive in his jail cell.

Medical staff entered the jail cell and began life-saving measures. Despite those efforts, Derek Valentine was pronounced dead at the scene.

A full investigation into the inmate death remains ongoing at this time.


Liability For Merced County Jail Inmate Deaths

The United States is a world leader in the number of people who die in custody each year. Many in-custody deaths are due to jail overdoses. According to National Public Radio, “From 2001 to 2018, the number of people who have died of drug or alcohol intoxication in state prisons rose more than 600%, according to an analysis of newly-released data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In county jails, overdose deaths increased by more than 200%.” There are many other common causes of inmate death.

  • Suicide
  • Homicide
  • Heart attack
  • Cancer
  • Drug withdrawal

When the state takes away a person’s autonomy through incarceration, certain constitutional standards must apply. Failing to treat the medical needs of an inmate is considered cruel and unusual punishment which is forbidden by the constitution. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. A jail could neglect the medical needs of an inmate in a variety of ways.

  • A jail may have failed to help an inmate going through withdrawal.
  • A jail may have failed to help an inmate at risk of falling.
  • A jail may have failed to treat an inmate with cancer.
  • A jail may have failed to help an inmate going through an overdose.

It can be very hard to know where to begin after any inmate dies in-custody. Family members will often go through an immense amount of grief. This grief is often amplified by the fact that jails are rarely transparent about how certain inmates die while in jail. The family of any person that died in custody may be able to seek some measure of accountability through a civil claim.

Investigating Inmate Deaths At The John Latorraca Correctional Center

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Derek Valentine. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There are so many questions that still need to be answered.

Have you or someone that you care about been harmed while staying at the John Latorraca Correctional Center? You may have legal recourse. Our team of civil rights advocates are here to assist you in any way that we can. We focus particularly on cases involving police abuses of power and jail medical neglect. Our team is experienced in holding law enforcement accountable. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of assistance we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.

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