He complained of head discomfort and nausea.
"My head feels big," he told a nurse.
The nurse ignored the complaint, sheriff's disciplinary records show. After learning that Barcenas-Jimenez was having difficulty breathing, a doctor also failed to exam him.
He died two days later from blunt-force trauma complicated by diabetes, the coroner said. He was 34.
The nurse was suspended for seven days, the doctor for four, for ignoring the inmate's complaints.
In 2005, Louis Laskey was in a communal shower in Men's Central when he collapsed and began convulsing in view of 40 other inmates. As his face turned red, then blue, fellow inmates frantically shouted, "Man down!" in an attempt to get help. It took deputies up to 20 minutes to respond, the inmates said. Laskey, it turned out, had suffered a heart attack. He died later that day at age 49.
Two deputies were suspended 15 days for being slow to come to the inmate's aid.
Available records indicate that no disciplinary action was taken after the death of Henry Torres, a 32-year-old drug offender. Moments before his arrest in 2000, he tried to hide some evidence by swallowing it. Over the next two months, he complained to jail officials that something felt stuck in his throat.
Torres' mother, Yvonne Benavides, said her son would call from jail and complain that he couldn't breathe. He told her nurses gave him aspirin and cough syrup but wouldn't let him see a doctor.
Four times the inmate appeared before a judge as his drug case moved through the courts; four times the judges ordered that medical workers take care of his problem.
They X-rayed Torres' neck and found nothing. They X-rayed his chest and found nothing.
The fourth order, signed Dec. 26 by Superior Court Judge Michael Cowell, ordered an "endoscopy to observe obstruction in throat & any other appropriate testing and/or treatment."
None was conducted. On Jan. 1, 2001, Torres was found dead in his cell. The coroner concluded that he choked to death on a plastic syringe cap lodged in his throat.
The county settled a wrongful death suit for $250,000.
County supervisors and sheriff's officials have known for years that there were not enough doctors and nurses in the jails. In 2001, a deputy described the shortages in a memo submitted to the supervisors. A San Francisco consultant, Rebecca Craig, was hired to study the problem.
Craig's conclusions -- submitted to the county's top lawyer in April 2004 -- called for significant increases. More than 520 new doctors, nurses and pharmacists were needed, she wrote. An additional 200 clerks and other support staff were also necessary so nurses and doctors could spend more time treating patients and less doing paperwork.
County supervisors did not respond to inquiries from The Times about medical conditions within the jails or about the consultant's report.
Since 2005, the county has allocated about $20 million to hire 280 more nurses and 13 more doctors, officials said. The Sheriff's Department, however, has been unable to fill nearly 100 of those positions, in part because of competition from private hospitals and clinics.