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Recent Pima County jail-related deaths are more than twice as high as reported according to medical examiner

Joseph Zarate was in Block 1S, Cell 20 of the Pima County jail when a medical worker checked on the 29-year-old who had been detained for 46 days. They found him lying naked on his back on a bunk without a mattress near a toilet filled with brown water. His knees were up in the air. Dried feces was smeared on the bunk, as well as on his hands and buttocks.

Joseph gave the NaphCare worker a thumbs-up and said, “I’m not suicidal. I need my Methadone.” That was March 20, 2023. The next day, Joseph’s heart stopped beating.

The details documenting the last moments of Joseph’s life come from his mother, Denise Mills. She says she found a stack of jail medical records stashed inside a bag with her son’s belongings at the hospital shortly after he died. She showed the jail records and hospital medical reports that are described in this story to Arizona Luminaria.

For weeks inside the jail, Joseph had been alternating between accepting and refusing his medications, including ones prescribed for nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, psychosis, as well as acetaminophen for pain.