Officials from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office have determined that “acute heroin toxicity” was the main factor that led to the death of Timothy Richard Janowicz, the third inmate to die in the SLO County Jail this year.
Janowicz, who was booked into jail on Nov. 20, 2013, on drug charges, was found unresponsive in his bunk on May 30. An autopsy revealed that, in addition to the heroin overdose, Janowicz “suffered atherosclerotic coronary artery disease with a 90 percent occlusion in one of the main arteries leading to his heart,” according to a June 24 press release.
Sheriff’s officials are investigating how Janowicz obtained heroin in the jail, and in the press release said that “the smuggling of contraband is an ongoing problem at county jails and prisons throughout California.” The office has budgeted to purchase a digital security screening system that will detect “all types of contraband, internally and externally on inmates.”
There have been three inmate deaths so far in 2014, the most for the Sheriff’s Office since 2001, when three inmates also died while in custody. This year, Rudy Joseph Silva died of the H1N1 flu virus in January. About two months later, Josey Richard Meche was found unresponsive in his cell and later pronounced dead.
Arresting officers conduct a medical prescreen of suspects and correctional deputies conduct another medical screen when inmates arrive at the jail, according to Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Tony Cipolla. Inmates can also request medical attention while in jail, or a “sick call.” Janowicz made four such requests between the time he was booked and the time he died.