Inmate William Newell, 57, Died Following Medical Emergency At Jefferson County Jail
JEFFERSON COUNTY, COLORADO (September 11, 2023) - An inmate identified as William Newell has tragically died following a medical emergency at the Jefferson County Jail.
Jefferson County officials are saying that the incident took place on July 30. William Newell was booked into Jefferson County Jail and was on a detox protocol.
At some point during his stay, the inmate was transported to the hospital in order to undergo surgery. Sadly, William Newell died at the hospital after going through surgery.
Jail officials said that he had no history of medical conditions aside from a leg injury when he was brought to the jail. A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For Jefferson County Jail Inmate Deaths
Thousands of inmates die in custody every year. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “In 2019, a total of 3,853 prisoners died in state prisons or private prison facilities under a state contract, a decrease of 284 deaths from 2018. The number of federal prisoners who died in the custody of a facility operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) increased from 378 in 2018 to 381 in 2019.” Many in-custody deaths are due to inmates that don’t get adequate medical care during withdrawal. There are many steps that a jail should take to prevent inmates from dying from withdrawal.
- Inmates should get a thorough medical screening to identify what their medical needs may be.
- Jails should employ well-trained medical staff
- Jails should develop clear and comprehensive withdrawal management protocols.
- Inmates going through withdrawal should have access to plenty of liquids and nutritious food.
- Inmates should be constantly monitored during any detoxification protocol.
- Inmates will typically need certain medications if they are going through a detox.
The Eighth Amendment of the constitution forbids jails from utilizing cruel and unusual punishment. To that end, jails must provide inmates with reasonably adequate healthcare. This includes care in the event an inmate is going through an overdose or withdrawal. Inmates at risk from withdrawal must receive “medical detoxification,” which is done under the supervision of medical professionals. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim.
Consider, for example, the tragic death of Elissa Lindhorst. She entered a Madison County jail and her health continued to decline in front of Sheriff’s Department officials. Despite her deteriorating health, jail officials declined to provide her with additional medical care. This took place even though she informed staff that she was going through opioid withdrawal. Sadly, she later died after she stopped breathing inside her cell. Her family eventually reached a settlement with Madison County. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any in-custody death.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- Medical records should be preserved.
- Surveillance footage should be sought.
- An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
- An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.
Many jail deaths are completely preventable. They are often the result of inadequate medical care. Jail officials may not be properly trained. In many circumstances, jail staff may simply be indifferent. Many inmates die because jails fail to intervene until the very last moment. The family of any inmate that died in-custody may be able to seek some measure of justice through a constitutional claim. It is always advisable to seek the guidance of an expert after any person dies in jail.
Investigating Jefferson County Jail Inmate Deaths
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of William Newell. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent other tragedies like this.
Do you need more information about a Jefferson County inmate death? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that inmates are aware of their rights and that jails are held accountable for their neglect. 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 214-987-4100.