Sheriff calling for better funding after Inmate dies after assault at Merced County Jail

EMBED </>More Videos

A 31-year-old Los Banos inmate is dead after being assaulted by two other inmates in his cell. (KFSN)

A 31-year-old Los Banos inmate is dead after being assaulted by two other inmates in his cell. Deputies said Aaron Bonilla was attacked by inmates Steven Rincon and Reyes Carrillo about two weeks ago.

"The other inmates in the cell with him had kicked him and beat him to the point where he was unconscious," said Deputy Daryl Allen, Merced County Sheriff Department.

Bonilla was taken to a nearby hospital, and then transferred to hospice care where he died from his injuries.

This marks one of several inmate assaults in Merced County jails in a month's span. Sheriff Vern Warnke said the main jail holds the most dangerous inmates-- but it's also understaffed.

Back around 2008, Warnke said the county cut several positions, so while it looks like the jail is down one or two positions the need for more deputies is crucial.

"Those positions were taken from us and not replaced-- realistically we're 10 or 12 down in our corrections," said Warnke.

But the problem goes beyond jail walls-- Warnke said the entire department is down in deputies. Some are picking up hours on their time off; he said five dispatchers are taking over the job meant for at least 12.

Warnke said the county is not providing enough money for decent pay and many are leaving to work somewhere else.

"With what we do have it's not working. We need more staffing, we've gotta have more bodies."

Warnke said they recently received about $40-million from the state to renovate the John Latorraca Correctional Facility, but still need the county to put public safety at the top of their list for funding.

In the meantime, the few deputies the jail has are revving up their security checks to try and prevent another incident among inmates.

Charges have been filed with the District Attorney's Office against the inmates that attacked. At first they were charged with attempted murder, but now those have been changed to murder.

As for the under-staffing issue, Warnke hopes to meet with county supervisors sometime this week to discuss solutions.

Related Topics:
assaultinmatesmerced countyMerced
(Copyright ©2018 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.)