Inmate JohnSoza (Full Name: John Michael Soza) Died In Midland County Jail Custody After Not Eating For Nearly 10 Days
MIDLAND COUNTY, TEXAS (October 30, 2023) - A 29-year-old inmate identified as John Soza has tragically died in custody at a Midland County Jail.
Midland County officials are saying that the incident began on September 17th. Jail staff have said that John Soza stopped eating from September 17 to September 25.
There was one exception where he ate on 9/22/23. On September 25, correctional officers noticed that he was catatonic. Paramedics were called to the scene and the inmate was transported to Midland Memorial Hospital.
He was treated at the hospital for tree weeks and underwent several episodes where he had no heartbeat. Tragically, John Soza died early in the morning on October 15.
A full investigation into the incident remains ongoing.
Liability For Midland County Inmate Deaths
Far too many inmates die in custody each year in jails. Though rare, a few other cases have involved inmates that died from acute dehydration or malnutrition. Consider, for example, the tragic death of Larry Price Jr., 5. He was a 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound inmate who withered away to 121 lbs at the time of his death after being jailed for a year. There are a number of steps that jails should take if they encounter an inmate who has voluntarily stopped eating.
- Medical Assessment: Inmates who have stopped eating should get a medical assessment. People may stop eating for a number of reasons. For example, a medical condition might make eating or drinking painful. In these situations, inmates may need enteral nutrition.
- Informed Consent: Efforts should be made to make inmates fully aware of the potential health consequences of their choice to stop eating.
- Mental Health Evaluation: Inmates who have stopped eating should get a thorough mental health evaluation. In some cases, inmates who have stopped eating may be suffering from severe depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions which can be treated.
- Monitoring: Jails should carefully monitor inmates who have stopped eating. Regular assessments can help detect when an inmate’s health is deteriorating.
Jails have a legal obligation to provide inmates with reasonable healthcare. This includes care for medical conditions directly resulting from the adverse choices that an inmate makes. There is no excuse for a jail to fail to provide inmates proper care for their health conditions. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a negligence claim. Many steps should be taken after an inmate has died in custody.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- The care that the inmate received prior to their death should be understood.
- Medical records related to the death should be preserved.
- An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.
Jail officials will often believe that they have done their job by providing inmates with food. But this is not always the case. Correctional officers must understand the medical, physical and psychological factors that could contribute to a person refusing to eat food. Inmates who have stopped eating should get medical help. The family of any person that died of neglect in custody may have legal recourse through a civil claim. A civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Midland County Inmate Deaths
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of John Soza. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There are so many questions that still need to be answered. Had this man received better care, it is possible that he still may be here.
Do you need more information about a Midland County inmate death? Our team of civil rights attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We are committed to helping inmates understand their rights and holding jails accountable for their unconstitutional actions. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any in-custody death we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 214-987-4100.