Santa Cruz County Jail inmate dies; investigation underway

Santa Cruz County Jail.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

An inmate at the Santa Cruz County Jail died at 8:16 on Tuesday morning. Sheriff’s office detectives are investigating the incident.

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Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office detectives are investigating the Tuesday morning death of an inmate at the jail on Water Street.

A release from the sheriff’s office states that the inmate was “found in medical distress” around 7:45 a.m., and that jail correctional and medical staff began treating the patient immediately. The patient was pronounced dead at 8:16 a.m.

Inmate Mark Van Beckner, 57, died of an arterial aortic aneurysm at the Santa Cruz County Jail, according to a Wednesday...

Administration Lt. Patrick Dimick told Lookout that the death was not a suicide, and that foul play is not suspected.

He added that more information will be released “once the next of kin are notified as well as once we have a better handle on it with our investigators.”

The jail, which currently holds around 310 inmates, has a medical clinic with a doctor, registered nurses, and psychiatric professionals on site.

Dimick said that he did not know how many inmates had died in custody in recent years, and did not have time to get through the information that contains the exact number. Instead, he pointed to grand jury reports for the most accessible data.

A grand jury report from June 2021 showed that Santa Cruz County saw 6.4 inmate deaths per 100,000 bookings from 2005 to 2019 — the seventh-lowest rate among California counties.

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