SAN DIEGO — Calls for justice and jail reform grow louder as more San Diego County inmates die while in-custody.
At a news conference outside the downtown central jail, local activists and a civil rights attorney announced a motion was filed Monday morning asking a federal court to address dangerous and deadly conditions at county jails.
“There’s a crisis that needs a solution — a solution that will save lives so that other people will not lose loved ones in the custody of law enforcement,” said Yusef Miller with the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego.
The complaint calls for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to do more in several areas, including preventing drug overdoses in jails, ensuring timely safety checks and more mental health follow-up for inmates.
“These reforms are badly needed because the County of San Diego and the sheriff’s department have not enacted reforms that the community, the experts, with oversight agencies and the grieving families, have been asking and demanding for years,” said attorney Van Swearingen.
So far this year in San Diego County, eight people have died while in-custody.
Last week, a 25-year-old inmate died after he was found unresponsive in his cell at the jail in Otay Mesa.
This comes on the heels of a blistering state audit revealing 185 inmates died in county jails from 2006 to 2020 — the most in the state.
The report accused the sheriff’s department of failing to “adequately prevent and respond to” in-custody deaths.
“This is a crisis that we need to get a handle on and it will not happen if we’re just waiting for law enforcement or the sheriff’s department to do something about it,” said Miller.
The motion is set to be heard in court June 16.