pexels-pixabay-236380Inmate Elizabeth Ardon (Full Name: Elizabeth Maria Ardon), 23, of Phelan Died In Custody At West Valley Detention Center In Rancho Cucamonga

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CALIFORNIA (May 8, 2024) – A 23-year-old woman identified as Elizabeth Ardon has tragically died in custody at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

San Bernardino County officials are saying that the incident began around 9:40 a.m. on May 3. Correctional officers noticed that Elizabeth Ardon was unresponsive in her jail cell.

Jail medical staff entered the cell and began life-saving measures. Elizabeth Ardon was transported to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

A full investigation remains ongoing at this time. There have been several other deaths at the West Valley Detention Center in recent months involving very young inmates.

A 34-year-old inmate identified as Dianna Newton died after being found unresponsive in her cell in December 2023. A 35-year-old inmate identified as Ricky Whipple died after experiencing a medical emergency in October 2023.

Liability For Inmate Deaths At The West Valley Detention Center

Inmate deaths are sadly far too common across the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “A total of 4,234 persons died in state and federal prisons in 2019, a 6.6% decrease from the 4,515 deaths in 2018 reported to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) Mortality in Correctional Institutions (MCI, formerly the Deaths in Custody Reporting Program) data collection.” Jails should take a number of measures in order to keep inmates safe.

  • Inmates should get a thorough health screening before they are admitted.
  • Jails should work hard to prevent illicit substances from entering the jail system.
  • Jails should perform periodic wellness checks on inmates.

All jails have a legal obligation to protect inmates from reasonably foreseeable sources of harm. This includes providing inmates with all the healthcare that they need. Inmates tend to enter the jail system with a variety of different health needs. In particular, inmates tend to have higher rates of substance abuse. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. Inmate deaths could be caused by a variety of different factors.

  • Jail officials may have failed to perform wellness checks on inmates.
  • Jail officials may not have given an inmate the medication that they needed.
  • Jail officials may have denied an inmate’s request to be seen by a doctor.
  • Jail officials may not have helped an inmate going through a medical emergency.

It can be hard to know what to do after any in-custody death. To make matters worse, jails will often release little to no information about what happened. In far too many situations, jails label inmate deaths as “natural” when this label would not make sense. A large portion of inmate deaths that were supposedly natural involved some amount of medical neglect. The family of any inmate who died in custody may have legal recourse through a civil claim.

Investigating Inmate Deaths At West Valley Detention Center

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Elizabeth Ardon. Any person who may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There have been so many deaths at this jail in recent months. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent other tragedies like this.

Do you need more information about an inmate death at the West Valley Detention Center? Our team of civil rights attorneys is here to answer any questions that you may have. We focus entirely on helping people impacted by jail medical neglect and law enforcement abuses of power. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.



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