Inmate Stephen Lofton Died After Being Found Unresponsive At Santa Rita Jail In Dublin
DUBLIN, CALIFORNIA (October 8, 2023) – An inmate identified as Stephen Lofton has tragically died after being found unresponsive in his cell at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Alameda County officials are saying that the incident began on Tuesday night. Correctional officers noticed that Stephen Lofton was not responding when they called out to him.
Jail and medical staff entered his cell and began life-saving measures. Despite those measures, Stephen Lofton was pronounced dead later that night. His death was believe to be caused by asphyxia due to hanging.
A full investigation into the incident remains ongoing.
Liability For Inmate Deaths At Santa Rita Jail
Suicide is one of the main causes of inmate death across California and the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “A total of 340 persons in state and federal prisons and 355 persons in local jails died by suicide in 2019, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced today. The number of suicides in local jails increased 5% from 2018 to 2019, while suicides in state and federal prisons were stable.” Jails should take a number of steps to reduce the number of inmate suicides.
- Jail should screen inmates to assess whether or not they are at risk of suicide.
- Inmates that are at heightened risk of self-harm may need to be placed under constant supervision on suicide watch.
- Jails should do their best to create a supportive environment that gives inmates lives worth living.
Every jail has a legal obligation to provide inmates with constitutionally adequate medical care. This includes mental health care. A large portion of the people that enter the jail system have some form of trauma. It is not uncommon for inmates to dealt with severe mental health issues or substance abuse problems. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the prospect that an inmate may kill themselves, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. There are many ways a jail may have failed to properly care for an inmate at risk of suicide.
- Jails may not have followed the advice of mental health professionals.
- Jails may not have placed an inmate at risk of suicide under adequate supervision.
- Jails may have left an inmate with objects that could be used to commit suicide, such as bed sheets.
Many jail suicides are preventable. But this requires jails to take a holistic approach. Inmates need to be treated well and given proper care. There are even design elements such as more natural lighting that can help reduce suicides. It is important that family members of inmates that die in custody understand that they do have rights. The family of any person that died in custody may be able to seek some measure of justice through a civil claim.
Investigating Inmate Deaths At Santa Rita Jail
We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Stephen Lofton. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to police. It is our sincere hope that measures are taken to prevent other tragedies like this.
Do you need more information about an in-custody death in Alameda County? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that inmates are aware of their rights and that jails are upholding constitutional standards. 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.