A 45-year-old man died early Wednesday morning at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail shortly after deputies deemed the inmate a danger to himself.
Jonathan Paul Thomas was booked at approximately 1:32 a.m. and was declared dead 31 minutes later at the Santa Barbara jail.
Mr. Thomas was locked in a single-occupant safety cell after deputies heard him make troubling comments. The deputies removed his clothing, placed him face down on the floor and removed his handcuffs before exiting, according to a news release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
Soon after, deputies noted that Mr. Thomas was not moving. They began lifesaving measures and called for backup. Wellpath (a for-profit jail medical care company), the County Fire Department and American Medical Response tried to save Mr. Thomas’s life but were unsuccessful.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Mr. Thomas’s death, and a cause of death has not been determined. Because the investigation is ongoing, the Sheriff’s Office declined to respond to a request to comment.
Last month, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury released its investigation of a suicide in the Main Jail, and it found multiple procedures where inmates with mental health needs could be better served. The Sheriff’s Office plans to respond soon to the report.
One of the jury’s recommendations is to have a mental health professional on site 24/7. Currently, mental health services are unavailable at the Main Jail from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The Sheriff’s Office has committed to improving its facilities and plans as part of a settlement of the Murray v. County of Santa Barbara case.
The Board of Supervisors recently approved a renovation of the Main Jail to meet the settlement’s demands, including dedicated space for treatment. Demands also include timely treatment, of which the jail is in “partial compliance,” according to the plaintiffs.