Carty Holland, whose 36-year-old mentally ill son Andrew died in the County Jail in January 2017, has made a sizable donation to the political challengers of San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson and District Attorney Dan Dow.
Holland, of Atascadero, said last week that he made the $50,000 donation because he supports candidates Greg Clayton and Judge Mike Cummins’ pledges to not only investigate his son’s death, but also implement major reforms to how the county treats the mentally ill.
Andrew Holland died Jan. 22, 2017, after being held in a County Jail restraint chair for 46 consecutive hours before dying of an embolism shortly after being released. Andrew had spent nearly a year and a half at the jail and was supposed to have been transferred to a psychiatric facility 12 days before his death.
Since 2012, 12 inmates have died of a variety of causes while in jail custody, most recently in November.
According to major donor statement filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission on Jan. 31, both candidates’ campaign committees will each receive $25,000.
Clayton, a private investigator who’s filed to run against Parkinson in the June Primary, said in a news release announcing his candidacy that he wants to be an “agent of change” in the Sheriff’s Office, re-establishing “on-site leadership” at the jail and creating an independent medical examiner’s office.
“I fully understand that the Holland family is going through a difficult time,” Parkinson said in a written statement Monday. “As much as I wish that they would work with me to change a state and nationwide crisis, I respect their right to financially support my declared opponent.”
Parkinson has served as sheriff since January 2011 and was elected to a second four-year term after running unopposed in 2014.
Mike Cummins, a former Stanislaus County judge running against District Attorney Dow, also told The Tribune that he’s challenging the incumbent because of Dow’s decision to not investigate the jail deaths, which Cummins called “ludicrous.”
Former Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham told The Tribune in July that the DA’s Office did not launch its own investigation because it was not asked to by Parkinson as well as because of an ongoing FBI civil rights investigation launched in May.
Dow, who was elected to his first term in 2014, said Monday: “My heart goes out to the Holland family for the loss of their son, and I respect their right to support the candidate of their choice.”
The Holland family received a $5 million settlement from the county in July and is in the process of forming a non-profit Andrew Holland Foundation to directly assist people with mental health needs in the criminal justice system.