Death of Inmate Ricardo Saldivar At Delano Prison Investigated As Homicide

DELANO, CALIFORNIA (July 11, 2023) – An inmate identified as Ricardo Saldivar has tragically died at North Kern State Prison in Delano after being found unresponsive in his cell.

Kern County officials are saying that the incident began on Monday afternoon. Correctional officers found Ricardo Saldivar unresponsive in his jail cell.

Medical staff and officers entered his cell. He was taken to the prison’s medical treatment area where he was later pronounced dead.

The death of Ricardo Saldivar is currently being investigated as a homicide. His 47-year-old cellmate is being investigated as a suspect.

North Kern State Prison is a medium security state prison that houses approximately 3,500 inmates.


Liability For Inmate Homicides

Prisons can be a dark and dangerous place. Among other things, inmates are constantly at risk of possibly being attacked by other inmates. According to Statista, “In 2019, 143 inmates of state and federal prisons in the United States were killed by homicide. This is a significant increase from 2008 levels, when 40 inmates were killed in state or federal prisons in the United States.” Inmate-on-inmate attacks are often highly preventable. There are a number of steps that prisons should take to prevent prison violence.

  • Inmates and correctional officers should be adequately supervised.
  • Inmates with a violent propensity should be segregated away from non-violent offenders.
  • Prisons and jails should be properly staffed. Understaffed jails are much more likely to have outbursts of violence.

Inmates have  a constitutional right to adequate care and to live in a reasonably safe environment. To that end, jails must take reasonable measures to prevent inmate-on-inmate assaults. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to a specific knowledge of particular threats to an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. In other words, a jail must have known that a specific inmate was at risk and knowingly failed to take action to prevent that harm.

On the other hand, specific knowledge of a particular threat may not always bee needed to show deliberate indifference. Consider, for example, Pierson v. Hartley, No. 02-3491, 391 F.3d 898 (7th Cir. 2004). An inmate with a known violent history was allowed to roam an open-spaced dormitory. He was allowed to remain there even after he was convicted of possessing a weapon while incarcerated. He violently attacked another inmate who ended up losing a testicle. The court upheld a jury award on behalf of the injured inmate. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any in-custody attack.

  • Surveillance footage of the attack should be sought.
  • All jail records related to the assailant should be examined.
  • Medical records related to the incident should be preserved.
  • It should be determined if the victim made any complaints or requests to the jail before they were attacked.

Having two people in one cell is inherently risky. Placing a violent offender with another inmate in the same cell can be downright reckless. The family of any person that died following an inmate attack may be able to seek some measure of justice through a constitutional claim. A civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case free of cost and let you know what your legal options are.


Investigating Inmate Attacks At North Kern State Prison

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Ricardo Saldivar. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There has been a sharp uptick of inmate assaults in California this year. It is our sincere hope that measures will be taken to prevent other tragedies like this.

Have you or someone that you love been harmed while staying at the North Kern State Prison in Delano? There are a number of laws designed to help you. We care deeply that inmates and families are aware of their constitutional rights. In fact, we focus exclusively on helping people who been harmed by government abuses and jail 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.

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