(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Members of the community have planned to protest the recent death of Dezaree Archuleta and six other inmates at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center (CJC).
EPSO said deputies are aware of the event planned for 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 near the El Paso County Jail.
The protest is being organized by the Colorado Springs Peoples Coalition (CSPC), who are demanding answers from El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder regarding the deaths of the seven inmates. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) is responsible for the care of all inmates in custody at the CJC, according to CSPC. The organization says the community wants to know what the Sheriff’s Office is doing to prevent deaths at the CJC, especially when inmates are dealing with mental health issues.
“Sheriff’s deputies are there to protect inmates while they are in their custody, they need to be held accountable for this death,” stated Archuleta’s Aunt, Desiree Archuleta. “No other family member should have to go through this.”
Archuleta’s death was ruled a suicide, but her family wants to know more about the circumstances leading up to her death, stated CSPC.
“The Sheriff’s dept [sic] doesn’t seem to be taking proper care of inmates with mental health issues,” said Shelly Romera, Dezaree’s mother. “They don’t seem to care. She was on suicide watch and yet they didn’t take seriously the care that she needed. They took away her hope.”
CSPC said there should be no preventable deaths at the El Paso County jail and that it is a ‘travesty’ to have seven deaths in 2022.
The Colorado Springs Peoples Coalition is calling for:
- Independent civilian oversight board over the Sheriff’s Office
- Release of Dezaree’s medical records and disciplinary records while at CJC
- Independent investigation into the recent deaths at CJC
- Immediate reinvestment into medical facilities and living areas
- Independent inmate complaint council
- Refocus on rehabilitation and mental health over incarceration
- Reparations for emotional harm done to the families
- Immediate release/public rehabilitation of all non-violent offenders
“The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office always supports the peaceful exercise of first amendment rights,” said Public Information’s Officer Lieutenant Deborah Mynatt.
Per EPSO’s policy, Mynatt said they will not comment on pending litigation.