Report: Jail staff did not check on inmate before his death

Posted at 9:26 AM, May 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-15 13:42:14-04

BURLEY, Idaho — A report from a sheriff’s investigation says an inmate at an Idaho jail was left alone for three hours while suffering the effects of a drug overdose — far longer than the 15-minute interval checks required under jail policy. Thomas Rettew died of the overdose Jan. 17 while in a holding cell at the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center.

The Times-News newspaper in Twin Falls obtained the redacted 154-page report through a public records request to the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

A grand jury considered the case in February, and the sheriff’s office spokeswoman Lori Stewart says no charges will be filed in connection with Rettew’s death.

According to the report Rettew, a 38-year-old Rupert man, complained of not feeling well when he arrived at the jail. Over the next few hours he had convulsions and vomiting, and jail staffers were told he was detoxing.

Jail policy says detoxing inmates should be checked on every 15 minutes, but the report says detention center staff that day were also dealing with an inmate who attempted to kill himself.