Inmate Paul Gillett (Full Name: Paul Howard Gillett) Died After Being Found Unresponsive In Jail Cell At Santa Barbara Main Jail

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA (October 24, 2023) – An inmate identified as Paul Gillett has tragically died in custody at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail.

Santa Barbara County officials are saying that the incident took place on Saturday. At around 6:20 a.m. correctional officers noticed that Paul Gillett was unresponsive in his own cell.

Jail and medical staff entered the cell and began life-saving measures. Despite those efforts, Paul Gillett  was pronounced dead just 10 minutes later.

Jail staff said that they determined the deceased had a piece of linen around his neck before being found unresponsive. A full investigation into the incident remains ongoing at this time.


Liability For Santa Barbara County Inmate Deaths

Suicide is a major cause of in-custody death. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “suicides were the leading cause of jail deaths between 2000 and 2019, totaling 6,217 — 30 percent of all deaths in local jails. In 2019, the suicide rate in jails was over two times that of the general public.” Preventing inmate suicide should be a top concern of every jail. What follows are some measures that jails should take in order to prevent inmate suicides.

  • Inmate should get a proper mental health screening when they are first admitted.
  • Inmates should get adequate mental healthcare.
  • Jail officials should be trained to recognize when an inmate is going through psychological distress.

Jails have a legal responsibility to provide inmates with reasonably adequate healthcare. This includes healthcare for their psychological needs. Inmates often enter the prison system with trauma. Most inmates were the victims of abuse at one point or another. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the mental health needs of an inmate who later dies, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. It is important that evidence is preserved after any inmate death.

  • Medical records related to the death should be preserved.
  • Surveillance footage of the death should be sought.
  • The actions of correctional officers leading up to the death should be understood.
  • Body camera footage from all officers involved should be examined.

One of the major factors that can contribute to an inmate suicide is medical neglect. Inmates who are at risk of suicide should typically be put in specialized cells so that they can be monitored. But this does not always happen. The family of any person that dies due to self-harm may be able to seek some measure of justice through a civil claim. Sadly, though, it is common for jails to deny responsibility if any inmate dies in their care.


Investigating Santa Barbara Main Jail Inmate Deaths

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Paul Gillett. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what went wrong. 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 Santa Barbara Main Jail? Our team of civil rights attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that inmates are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. 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.


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