Thursday, August 18, 2016

[Santa Cruz County] Grand Jury Releases Report on 2015 Jail Death of Krista DeLuca; Family Sues County

In June, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released its report on the death of 23-year-old mother Krista DeLuca, who died in the main jail on September 29, 2015. (see PDF file) Shortly after the release of the Grand Jury report, DeLuca's family filed a civil lawsuit against the County of Santa Cruz. Besides the County, the lawsuit lists as defendants the Sheriff's Office, Sheriff-Coroner Jim Hart, Under-Sheriff Jeremy Verinsky, Chief Deputy Jeff March, Lieutenant Kelly Kent, and California Forensic Medical Group, Inc. (CFMG), as well as a list of unspecified "John Does". The Grand Jury report calls for a new independent contractor to oversee medical services at the main jail, and despite its multiple recommendations for major changes to jail policies and procedures, the county responded by indicating they still planned to renew their contract with CFMG. In August, the Santa Cruz-based organization Sin Barras called for the County Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s Office to take action and to implement the Grand Jury’s recommendations.
"For the third consecutive term, the Grand Jury is compelled to investigate yet another death at the Main Jail. There have been six deaths since October 2012," the Grand Jury report begins.
"The tragic death of this young woman comes as the Sheriff-Coroner and Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors are in the process of selecting a new medical services provider. The 2012–2016 provider is California Forensic Medical Group, Inc., whose existing contract began shortly before the first of these deaths."
Sin Barras statement:
"The poor quality of medical care for incarcerated people at the local jail remains an ongoing concern. Sin Barras believes that the County Health Services Agency should resume responsibility for jail medical care; outsourcing this essential service in 2012 has cut costs but hurt these people. Short of that, the 2016 renewal of the contract with the for­ profit medical provider CFMG (California Forensic Medical Group) is an opportunity to achieve better medical outcomes for these individuals. It is imperative not to miss this opportunity. The Civil Grand Jury issued three special reports since CFMG’s takeover of jail medical care recommending changes to the jail’s medical procedures that would save lives, but most of these changes continue to be rejected by the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department states that the safety of those in the jail is their highest priority, but in the past four years, while under contract with CFMG, multiple preventable deaths have occurred in the jail that can be described as "murders by negligence.”
August 17, 2016
Santa Cruz County News

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