How A Washington State Man Died While In Jail For Marijuana Possession

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Prison Bars

CREDIT: Shutterstock

In 2012, a 22-year-old in county jail for misdemeanor marijuana possession died of a food allergy. New video obtained by KIRO 7 shows that Michael Saffioti questioned guards and fellow inmates extensively about what was in the oatmeal being served that morning, due to his extreme dairy allergy. His lawyer says he was assured the oatmeal would be safe for him. He then proceeded to take a few bites, and began using an inhaler a few minutes later. KIRO 7 explains:

According to the legal claim, he asked to see a nurse.

Instead, he was sent to his cell.

Over the next half hour, the video shows other inmates looking in Saffioti’s cell as he jumped up and down.

The legal claim says he pressed his call button and was ignored.

About 35 minutes after he ate, a guard found Saffioti unconscious in his cell. The guard called for help and Saffioti was dragged him out.

Nurses arrived and performed CPR. Everett firefighters took over and rushed Saffioti to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a half hour later.

Saffioti’s death was one of eight over the last three years in Snohomish County. Several others involved mentally ill inmates who suffered injuries from tasing. A new study by the National Institute of Corrections found that serious overcrowding and understaffing at the jail’s health department — a rampant problem in the United States — caused alarming health hazards.

According to the Huffington Post, Saffioti’s allergies were so severe that he was known as “bubble boy,” and his mother said he smoked marijuana to ease his anxiety.

Saffioti’s death could have been particularly avoidable because he was jailed for marijuana possession, just months before the state passed a ballot initiative to legalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. While some misdemeanor possession still carries brief jail terms of between 24 hours and 90 days, many prosecutors in the state say they are not prioritizing prosecution of any misdemeanor marijuana possession.

(HT: Huffington Post)