2nd inmate of 2020 dies at Santa Rita jail; attorney says he suffered from mental health issues

An inmate died last week at Santa Rita jail, the second known person to die at the Dublin facility this year, officials confirmed on Monday.

Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly said Jonah Andrews, 25, died on Feb. 26. He been in Santa Rita since Jan. 14, stemming from a case out of Berkeley.

Kelly said he had an outstanding felony burglary arrest warrant and misdemeanor violation of a court order warrant.

Kelly also said that Andrews was the sole occupant of his cell and was found in medical distress about 2 p.m. by deputies conducting a routine security check of inmates. Kelly said deputies tried to save Andrews. There was no obvious signs of foul play, Kelly said. 

Kara Janssen, an attorney with Rosen, Bien, Galvan and Grunfeld, said Andrews also had some sort of mental health issue, which is why her firm was notified. She said she wasn't given much more information other than that there was "no obvious cause of death." Her firm sued the Alameda County Sheriff in 2018, which is why she gets certain inmate death alerts. 

This is the second Santa Rita jail death of the year and this month. 

On Feb. 2, Sotha Mey, 38, of Oakland, also died at Santa Rita. He was the first inmate death this year. His cause of death also has not been made public. He had been taken to  Highland Hospital for medical treatment and taken into custody there when deputies saw he had failed to appear in court for an auto theft case. 

In all, there have been 47 deaths at Santa Rita, or the now-closed Glenn Dyer facility, since 2014. 

Last month,  the California auditor’s office agreed to closely examine how the Alameda County Sheriff is spending money and running the jails in the wake of the department's high inmate death rate and one instance where a pregnant woman gave birth in an isolation cell.

It's a review that the sheriff said will likely show that his office needs more money to care for an at-risk population of inmates.

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@foxtv.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez 

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