At the third annual vigil and march to commemorate the life of an Atascadero man who died in 2017 while in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail, the man's family plans to partner with the SLO County sheriff to bring awareness to the needs of inmates with mental illness.
Andrew Holland died in 2017 after he was suffered an embolism while being restrained for 46 hours at the jail.
His death sparked controversy nationwide about how inmates, especially those with mental illness, should be managed behind bars.
Sharon Holland said she misses her son often but, on this 3-year anniversary of her son's death, she is inspired to help others.
"I am remembering the joy and it's a good thing," Sharon Holland said. "It does help to know others can be helped and I refuse to lose hope for them."
Sharon Holland's son, Andrew, died Jan. 22, 2017. While he is sorely missed, Sharon Holland wants to use her grief for good.
"It's really not about his death, it's more about the lives of those who continue to live with mental illness and are incarcerated," Sharon Holland said.
She said her son had a history of schizophrenia that only worsened behind bars.
The Holland family won a $5 million settlement from the county following the death of Andrew.
"There's obviously a lot of hurt involved when anyone is hurt and dies," Sharon Holland said. "But you you have to overcome. In this process, we've also learned forgiveness is absolutely imperative."
This year, for the first time, the Hollands are partnering with SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson as they march Wednesday during a candlelight vigil.
The sheriff was not available for an interview but wrote in a statement that he is attending the event at Sharon's request.
"I have been meeting with Sharon Holland over the past year," Parkinson said in the statement. "We have had very good conversations about our commitment to working together and partnerships in and out of the jail."
Since Andrew's death, several changes to operations have been made: the jail staff no longer uses restraint chairs, the sheriff formed a mental health task force and, among other changes, increased observation of mentally ill inmates.
The Hollands want more change, not just in San Luis Obispo County, but nationwide.
"(The jail staff) get every problem that mental illness brings forward, given to them to deal with and it's not the correct solution," Sharon Holland said.
The march takes place Wednesday at 6 p.m. and starts at Juvenile Hall. A brief reception will follow.