SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to take action on the scathing audit of the San Diego County Jail on Tuesday.
Inside that audit, released in February, the Auditor of the State of California found that the department failed to adequately prevent and respond to in-custody deaths. From 2006 through 2020, a total of 185 people died in San Diego County jails.
The board called on state lawmakers to pass legislation to implement the Auditor's recommendations of reforms inside county jails and committed to work with the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board to implement oversight recommendations.
The audit also detailed a lack of medical checks and significant deficiencies in policies and procedures. That is leading to change in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
“Certainly the state audit is, you know, was very direct, very honest," said Acting Sheriff Kelly Martinez.
Acting Sheriff Martinez said she’s embracing the recommended changes.
“A lot of it makes sense our jails should be as safe as possible. We should have the best health care possible for the individuals who are in our custody. And that's my intention,” she said.
She said some of the recommendations include:
- Better security checks by deputies
- Making sure inmates are healthy, proof of life checks
- Medical and mental health assessment inmates during the time of intake
She said some of the changes already in the works include implementing a pilot program for body-worn cameras on deputies in jails and conducting better security checks.
“One of the biggest changes that we really need is more staff. The Board of Supervisors was very generous last budget cycle, providing us with more healthcare positions, mental health and medical positions,” she said.
She said once all positions are filled they will be able to implement more full medical evaluations.
The Acting Sheriff said while implementing these changes, communication will be vital.
“Communication is often where we have a failure point. So, we're working harder on communication—the ability to communicate not only with the deputies but also with the healthcare staff better. [We are working on] more uniform policies that everyone understands and training [so] all of our individuals that everyone universally understands all of those policies,” she said.