Update: The families lawsuit is going forward on this tragic case.
A 22-year old man died while in the custody of the Snohomish County jail. His mother blames his serious medical problems, problems that may have been more quickly dealt with had he been home, where someone facing only misdemeanor pot charges probably should be.
According to the Associated Press, Michael Saffioti turned himself into police to face a misdemeanor marijuana charge. Saffioti arrived at the jail with a bag of medications. He has severe allergies and asthma. But on July 3 he died, and all indications are that his death was caused by an allergic reaction to the breakfast he was given.
He had been jailed once before, but jail workers took precautions when preparing his meals, preparing them separately and covering them with plastic to ensure no adverse reactions would happen. This time, he was supposed to be in the medical unit of the jail, but was moved to general population the day before he died.
Saffioti’s allergies were so severe, his mother says, he would have to ask a girl what she had eaten before he could safely kiss her. But, the jail knew about his medical problems—they had catered to them before.
The exact charges Saffioti was facing are unknown. He had been in the system before and was given an alternative sentence that allowed him to attend out-patient drug treatment while staying at home. It was his medical conditions that led him to self-medicate with anti-anxiety prescriptions and marijuana, said his mother.
The travesty here is that a man was killed while in custody on a misdemeanor marijuana charge. A man who may have possibly (in other states if not here in Washington) qualified for medical marijuana to treat his conditions. Instead, he was locked up like a violent criminal and because of that he is no longer.
No one should even be in jail on a misdemeanor pot charge, and hopefully this will no longer happen now that i502 is passed, and senseless tragedies like this can be avoided.
But the courts of Washington state take all criminal charges very seriously. Even misdemeanor offenses can result in jail time. These are situations where the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, where the amount spent to incarcerate a person is certainly not justified by their offense.
Still, if you are charged with a marijuana offense, you can go to jail. Having a defense attorney on your side may decrease the chances that you’ll be stuck with the most serious sentence. Contact our offices today to discuss your legal options and how we might be able to help.