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Shasta County

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This story is produced as part of a larger project by Matthew Brannon, a participant in the 2020 California Fellowship.
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A lawsuit filed in federal court accuses Shasta County Jail deputies of repeatedly beating a man in custody, causing his death, and then covering it up.
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In recent years, the jail has also seen the number of deaths in custody tick upward. Most of those deaths are suicides, a category of deaths some jail experts have deemed “mostly preventable.”
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John Adena's death in custody is one of 25 reported by the Shasta County Jail since 2006 — a number that one former California jail manager and expert witness described as “way too many, obviously.”
Picture of Alayna Shulman

In reporting her series on mental illness in Shasta County, Alayna Shulman didn't find the data she was hoping for. Instead, she highlighted that lack of data in her story. It was one of several lessons she took away from working on the project.

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As part of its Fragments of Care series on mental illness, Redding's Record Searchlight asked various North State leaders and officials what they think needs to be done to improve mental health services in the area.

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If anyone knows how mental illness can land someone in the criminal justice system, it’s Dianna Branch, the mother of a severely mentally ill adult son. She says his illness — and the drug use he believes eases his symptoms — has caused him to start fights, total seven cars and vandalize property.

Picture of Alayna Shulman

The roster of mental health workers in the rural areas is alarmingly small. And with too many people seeking help and few professionals to offer it, experts say the results are predictable: lengthy wait times, fragmented care and — in some cases — patients giving up hope of finding treatment.

Picture of Joe Szydlowski

In Northern California's Shasta County, a growing number of young adults are consumed by heroin addiction. The problem has quickly grown in the past two years and, some say, is approaching methamphetamine’s popularity. The surge in drug use has fueled a rise in crime levels as well.

Picture of Pauline Bartolone

When I left for a week of reporting in rural California in late February, I didn't know I would come back with two stories about the devastating health consequences of isolation.

I'm not just talking about the geographic isolation one finds in a remote area. From the hilly evergreen landscape of eastern Shasta County, to the agricultural flatlands of Tulare County in the South Central Valley, I witnessed how isolation can leave people in the dark about keeping healthy, lead to emotional despair, and pose real barriers to quality of life.

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