When inmates are first booked into the San Diego Central Jail they are asked if they have any underlying medical conditions. In June 2011, defendant Daniel Sisson failed to alert authorities he suffered from heroin addiction. The jail’s medical staff confirmed he died less than two days later. The cause of death was listed as an acute asthma attack that was brought on by heroin withdraw.
Experts have said that opiate withdraw is not just unpleasant, it can be life threatening if the addict has an underlying medical condition. San Diego Central Jail employees were not aware that Sisson had such a condition and said his failure to disclose was a contributing factor in his death. Deputies discovered him approximately three hours after the incident took place.
His parents have since filed a lawsuit and have alleged the jail did not perform the necessary health and safety checks. Their attorney has pointed out that this is not the first time an addict has died while in custody at the San Diego Central Jail. Several other similar cases have taken place in the past several years.
Not many jails have the ability to provide opiate-replacement drugs. Only inmates who have a previous prescription are reportedly able to be treated. It is unclear whether San Diego will be taking additional steps toward implementing a methadone treatment program in the future.