Sierra Wave Media

Eastern Sierra News for June 15, 2024





In a federal lawsuit filed by former Mono County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Madrid and in arbitration testimony over Madrid’s firing, comments were made about the Mono County Jail’s handling of inmate medications. We checked in with Inyo-Mono Public Health Officer Dr. Rick Johnson.

Madrid’s attorney said that when his client brought up the alleged “mishandling of medications for jail inmates”, Sheriff’s Department management retaliated. Testimony over this issue revealed that deputies pick up prescription drugs at local pharmacies and daisy-chain the drugs up to the jail where officers dispense them to inmates.

Asked about medication procedures at the jail, both Mono Sheriff Ralph Obenberger and County Counsel Marshall Rudolph said they could not comment because of ongoing litigation.

Dr. Johnson said the Health Department is not involved in the medication process and that the responsibility falls to the Sheriff and the jail. Johnson said the Health Department responsibility is for the annual inspection of the jail which, he said, “was done without any irregularities in tracking of inventory.”

Johnson said he and Louis Molina of Environmental Health inspected the jail in 2012. He said at that time “policies and procedures met requirements. We were satisfied. I don’t have any evidence of deviation,” he said. Asked about deputies picking up medications, Dr. Johnson said this is a widespread practice. He said, “We found no irregularities regarding medications.” Johnson also said it’s acceptable that Mono County Jail has no jail nurses. He said the Bridgeport Clinic is available.

Title 15 of State Code on Minimum Standards for Local Detention Facilities does say there shall be established procedures for pharmaceuticals and that “administration of medication shall only be done by licensed health personnel who are authorized to administer medication acing on the order of a prescriber.”

In response to this section of Title 15, Dr. Johnson provided us with the information that in August the Board of State and Community Corrections conducted a biennial inspection of the Bridgeport Jail and Court Holding Facility in Mammoth Lakes. The Sheriff’s Office reported that notice was received that the jail passed “without issues and with no corrective action needed.”  The issue in Madrid’s legal action against the Sheriff’s Department is not the handling of medications but how upper management treated him after he raised concerns.