Native American Jailed On Bad Check Charge Dies Of Dehydration And Malnutrition

Keaton Farris was only 25 when he died in April.

Image Via KIRO-TV

Farris, a Native American who had been arrested on a charge of identity theft after he cashed a stolen check for $350 in March, died as a result of dehydration and malnutrition. During the 13 days he was in custody at Island County Jail in Washington, he was given about a gallon and a half of water. Additionally, an investigation into the incident revealed that?jail employees refused to offer medical treatment to Farris or provide medication for his bipolar disorder.

The investigation also revealed that guards at the jail refused to give Farris even the minimum amount of water needed to sustain human life. Guards had shut off the water in the cell where Farris was housed to prevent him from flooding the room.

Farris had been classified as a crisis inmate ?meaning that he posed a threat to himself or staff?and a jail nurse also reported that he showed symptoms of psychosis, yet his medications were never transferred to Island County from the jail where he had previously been held.

Farris’?family is asking Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks to seek criminal charges against the jail employees who denied Farris treatment and care. ?The say they firmly believe the way Farris was treated violated his constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment.

Since the senseless death of Keaton Farris, two deputies who were accused of falsifying records in the case have resigned and two others have been placed on administrative leave.

It should be noted that Native Americans in this country are incarcerated 38 percent more often than the national average, and that rate has also increased by 27 percent in federal prisons during the past five years.

There are so many unanswered questions in this case: Why didn’t the guards give Farris bottled water? There was no way he could have flooded his cell with it. Why weren’t his mental health issues addressed immediately upon his arrival at the jail?

Tragically, all the answers in the world will never bring back Keaton Farris.