on behalf of Mohammad Tajsar of Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP
Jacob Parenti was due to spend a brief sentence in Monterey County Jail after pleading guilty to a minor drug offense. He was a well-liked 33-year-old father of one who saw his prison time as a chance for him to get right by the law. Instead, he became the latest victim of a prison system that has become more of a publically-financed morgue than a rehabilitation center.
On December 16, 2014, Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP and the Oakland, CA-based Rifkin Law Office filed suit on behalf of Mr. Parenti's family against Monterey County and the Monterey County Jail's private health care provider, California Forensic Medical Group, alleging that County staff callously left Mr. Parenti to die rather than provide basic medical treatment while Mr. Parenti was in custody. Mr. Parenti's death is the latest in a string of recent inmate deaths at Monterey County Jail that have been the subject of numerous press reports and federal lawsuits.
Mr. Parenti, a Monterey County native, was serving his jail sentence when he became seriously ill in early January 2014. He repeatedly submitted requests for medical attention for about one week, but those requests went unheeded by Jail staff. On the morning of January 15, 2014, when an officer finally called Mr. Parenti for a medical appointment, Mr. Parenti remained unresponsive on his dorm bed. Although the officer was unable to rouse Mr. Parenti, even after physically shaking him, the Jail failed to provide any emergency medical care to an inmate who was in obvious need of immediate care. Mr. Parenti was pronounced dead two hours later after inmates discovered he had stopped breathing, yelled to get the attention of officers, and attempted to resuscitate Mr. Parenti themselves.
Jail operators have a constitutional duty to provide basic medical care to inmates in their custody, as well as an obligation to seek immediate medical intervention for an individual who exhibits an immediate medical emergency. Monterey County failed to follow these obligations, which ultimately cost Mr. Parenti his life.
Monterey County's failure to provide the basic health treatment required by law to inmates in its Jail is already the subject of multiple lawsuits against the County, S heriff Miller, and California Forensic Medical Group. The Parenti family's attorneys, Rifkin Law Office and Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP, filed a lawsuit earlier in 2014 alleging that the Jail failed to provide adequate mental health treatment and suicide prevention measures for a man who committed suicide at the Jail in May 2013. (The Complaint in that case can be viewed here.) Monterey County is also the subject of an ongoing federal class action suit charging the County with gross constitutional violations in how the County runs its prison, including its failure to provide appropriate medical and mental health care, as well as its inability to protect prisoners from violence and from suicide risks.
Mr. Parenti's tragic story has been covered in the press since his death on numerous occasions, including in The Californian, the Monterey Herald, the Monterey County Weekly, and the Courthouse News Service.