Alameda County, Jail Health Care Company Settle Suit Over Inmate Beating Death

Alex Emslie, KQED News, February 10, 2015
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved an $8.3 million settlement today over the 2010 in-custody death of a man at Santa Rita Jail. The settlement also includes statewide changes to health care by Corizon Health Inc., a private company, and new training for Alameda County sheriffs deputies. On Aug. 16, 2010, Martin Harrison died after a struggle with several deputies during which he was beaten and shocked repeatedly with Tasers. A civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Harrisons family alleged a Corizon Health licensed vocational nurse failed to properly classify Harrison to be monitored for severe alcohol withdrawal when he was processed into Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. California law requires registered nurses to assess inmates at intake, and Corizon agreed to change staffing at correctional facilities throughout the state in the settlement, according to attorneys for Harrisons family. ... It was very important for us to stop Corizon from endangering jail inmates by staffing California jails with unqualified nurses, Oakland civil rights attorney Michael Haddad said. After jail deputies beat and Tasered their father to death, Martin Harrisons children beat them in court to win the largest wrongful death settlement in a civil rights case in California history. Alameda County and Corizon will split the settlement cost, as they did in a $1 million settlementwith Harrisons youngest son in 2013. Julia Sherwin, another attorney for Harrisons family, said Alameda County had agreed to new health training for all sheriffs deputies who have contact with inmates. She said the training includes how to recognize the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal so they can summon immediate medical treatment.While the settlement agreement applies only to California, Sherwin said the RN requirement could spread to other states where Corizon provides inmate health care.

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