A medical worker at the Sacramento County Jail has been arrested on charges of distributing drugs and contraband to inmates, according to Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper who held a press conference on the matter Wednesday.

According to Cooper and reports, Zaronna Harris, a medical assistant working at the jail become the focus of an investigation following series of inmate overdoses. The investigation revealed that multiple inmates had been calling a phone number connected to Harris, who reportedly was conspiring with Sacramento County Inmate James Whitfield to distribute drugs, cell phones and other contraband otherwise prohibited in the facility. 


During the investigation, Harris was reportedly seen on video handing drugs to Whitfield at the facility. After the exchange took place, authorities arranged to intercept Harris as she was entering the jail. At the time of her arrest, Harris was in possession of additional contraband.

“Detectives allowed the exchange to occur and intercepted Harris as she entered the jail with cocaine, a cellphone, a charging cable and screw heads to allow inmates to manipulate locks and manufacture weapons,” explained Cooper during Wednesday’s press conference. 


Harris also reportedly arranged to meet with another person outside the jail. Following her arrest, deputies located her suppliers and were serving additional search warrants. 


 The purpose of Wednesday’s press conference wasn’t only to address the recent investigation and arrest, Cooper was joined by other area agencies at the event to bring to light concerns of ongoing issues with the jail’s medical department.  


Cooper said the big issue at hand was the lack of control at the jail medical department, saying leadership there is “inept.” According to Cooper, the chief physician has been on leave for “several months.”



“I take responsibility for my deputies, their actions and what they do. This all revolves around jail medical. And it’s a big issue. They’re inept. Their lack of leadership, management and oversight in the jail is a big issue we’re dealing with and fighting with,” Cooper said, adding that the jails head physician has been on leave for several months. 

Folsom Police was one of the additional agencies that participated in Wednesday’s press conference in support of Cooper’s concerns.  The department issued a statement of their own on the matter, citing that issues with the jail medical department are impacting their officers ability to be on the streets at times due to heavy delays at the jail. 

“These issues have resulted in extended wait times to book an arrestee into jail, sometimes tying up our officers for 6-7 hours from the time of arrest. This impacts our ability to patrol the city and respond to calls as quickly as we could,” reads the statement. “We are grateful for Sheriff Cooper’s call for change to this problem. We look forward to working together with our partners in finding a solution.”

Cooper and the departments that participated Wednesday are calling for change at the facility, he pointed out that other jails in the region don’t have such issues. He pointed out how many agencies book through the Sacramento County Jail, a process that often takes several hours per arrestee. While he doesn’t know exactly what needs to be done to implement the change but he wants to be involved in the process.

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.