Inmate dead at Pima County Jail, concerns grow over jail conditions

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 8:30 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - An investigation is underway following the death of an inmate at the Pima County Detention Complex, making this the second inmate death this month alone.

The inmate, identified as 36-year-old Aaron Moore, was discovered unresponsive in the Detox Observation Unit. The medical examiner has conducted an autopsy and believes the death may be related to a medical issue.

A toxicology report is underway, and no suspicious activity is suspected.

However, this death comes after a list of other inmates were found dead in the jail, the most recent being earlier this month.

Paul Gattone, a civil rights attorney in Tucson, represents some families of those who died at the jail.

Some families don’t know their loved one isn’t alone.

“People are shocked, and their families are shocked that it keeps happening and happening,” Gattone said.

“It’s a sense of disbelief that not only did this happen to their loved one, but it happened to other people’s loved ones also, and certainly we can expect it’s going to happen in the future.”

Gattone said the jail is severely over capacity, which has contributed to resources being spread too thin across all inmates at the detention center.

“We believe that there is a lack of adequate staffing, there’s a lack of attention given to inmates’ security and they’re not checking on inmates on a regular basis, especially those who are in detox,” he said.

Inmates in detox, just like Moore, are of high concern.

Stephanie Piña is an organizer for No Jail Deaths, a group advocating for Pima Jail to prevent deaths from happening.

Her husband was in custody during his detox.

“He says that he had to go through it,” Piña said.

“They told him that he did this to himself. Whether he did or didn’t do this to himself, is there any empathy or sympathy, or compassion? They’re sick.”

Citing a lack of supervision and medical care like adequate hydration and pain management, Piña says detox in Pima County Jail is a death sentence.

“They die in jail,” she said. “And it’s scary.”

Piña says more investments need to be made to keep inmates out of jail instead of plans like the sheriff’s goal to build another facility to house more inmates.

“He wants 400 million dollars to build a facility when he not once mentioned any kind of rehabilitation, mental health … how is he going to help all of them?”

13 News has tried numerous times to contact PCSD for more information, but they reverted us to the original release on Moore’s death.

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