Inmate Elizabeth Laurel, 39, Died In Custody at Santa Rita Jail In Dublin

DUBLIN, CALIFORNIA (August 17, 2023) – A 39-year-old woman identified as Elizabeth Laurel has tragically died in custody while staying at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

Alameda County officials are saying that the incident took place around 7:00 p.m. on Monday. A correctional officer noticed that Elizabeth Laurel was either unresponsive or in some type of medical distress.

Jail staff and medical staff entered the cell and began life-saving measures. Despite those efforts,  she was later pronounced dead.

The cause of her death is unknown at this time, although two jail sources said that it may be related to a drug overdose. At the time of her death, Elizabeth Laurel was on withdrawal protocols for opioids and alcohol.

A full investigation remains ongoing.


Liability For Inmate Deaths At The Santa Rita Jail

Drug overdoses are one of the leading causes of inmate death in the United States. According to NPR, “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 addition to overdoses, a number of inmates sadly also die from drug or alcohol withdrawal. There are a number of symptoms commonly associated with drug or alcohol withdrawal.

  • Cold flashes
  • Sweating
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Delirium

All inmates have a constitutional right to receive reasonably adequate healthcare. This includes care when an inmate may be going through drug or alcohol withdrawal. An inmate going through drug or alcohol withdrawal in California must receive “medical detoxification.” This is the process that systemically and safely allows people to withdrawal from drugs or alcohol under medical supervision. Failing to follow the protocols of medical detoxification can result in serious injury or death. Several steps should be taken after any in-custody death.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • Surveillance footage should be sought.
  • An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
  • The actions of jail staff prior to the death should be understood.
  • An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.

Deaths due to drug overdoses or drug withdrawal are highly preventable. Sadly, though, correctional officers often fail to intervene until an inmate is already in medical distress. By this time, it’s often too late for many people. Jails should be proactive about keeping inmates healthy and safe. The family of any inmate that died in custody may have legal recourse through a constitutional claim.


Investigating Inmate Deaths At The Santa Rita Jail

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Elizabeth Laurel. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There needs to be greater oversight into the care inmates are getting at the Santa Rita Jail. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent other tragedies like this.

Do you need more information about an in-custody death at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin? Our team of inmates rights advocates are here to help you in any way that we can. We are committed to helping inmates and their families understand their rights and holding jails accountable for their actions. 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.


legal disclaimer

Legal Disclaimer