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New bill aimed to prevent inmate deaths at county jails

New bill aimed to prevent inmate deaths
Posted at 1:12 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 20:10:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- A new bill introduced by San Diego legislatures is designed to keep inmates safe and prevent in-custody deaths. The proposed legislation is in response to the California State’s Audit released last month.

In that audit, ABC 10News found there had been a disturbing number of in-custody deaths at our San Diego County jails. The report suggested the legislature take action.

Local leaders say the legislation is needed now more than ever. This is after the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed at least two deaths have been reported as of this week.

“The audit revealed there were 185 deaths between 2006 and 2020,” says Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber. “San Diego in-custody deaths were higher than any other county in California.”

Weber went on to add “there were an additional 21 deaths reported in 2021, and just this week there was another death reported of a 22-year-old male named William Schuck.”

Weber also stated another person had died while in police custody Thursday night. The Sheriff’s Department also confirmed the death.

Weber was joined by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assemblymember Chris Ward, and other local leaders Friday as they introduced Assembly Bill 2343.

Weber says the proposed legislation is in direct response to the California State Auditor’s report last month. The report says the Sheriff’s Department “did not take sufficient steps to prevent the high number of deaths.”

Assembly Bill 2343, also referred to as the Saving Lives in Custody Act, will work to address systemic deficiencies that have resulted in the deaths of individuals in custody.

A.B. 2343 outlines and revises the Board of State and Community Corrections policies. It will focus on best practices to performing intake health evaluations, training, safety checks, and more.

On Friday afternoon, the Sheriff's Department stated that 46 year-old inmate Lonnie Newton Rupard was found unresponsive in his cell at the Central Jail and was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause is reportedly under investigation.