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Double-Celling Mentally Ill California Ad-Seg Prisoners Proves Fatal

When administratively segregated mentally ill prisoners were placed in the same cell at California State Prison, Los Angeles (LAC) in September, 2004, one strangled the other with a bed sheet. Upon investigating the death, the watchdog Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that there was no policy against such double-ceiling, but recommended that one be established.

Carjacker Frank Perez, age 30 and mentally ill, was placed in administrative segregation for unspecified reasons. Eddie Arriaga, age 27 and also mentally ill, who was pending parole in July, 2005 after doing five years for attempted robbery, had been placed in administrative segregation because he had destroyed another prisoner's television set. Perez admitted killing Arriaga, giving alternate reasons of making a hit for the Mexican Mafia or because Arriaga had poor hygiene. Both men had long histories of criminal violence and violence towards other prisoners. Although LAC officials erred by not filling out the required double-ceiling compatibility" form, they did not violate prison policy by placing them together.

The OIG questioned the wisdom of placing such known mentally ill and violent prisoners in double cell conditions, and recommended the prison alter its policy to single-cell such prisoners.

Arriaga's death was one of five at LAC in eight months. Two were drug-related, one was from cardiac arrest after being pepper-sprayed by guards and one was from natural causes. The California Department of Corrections is continuing its own investigation.

Source: Daily News

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