The San Diego County prison has reported the highest death rate when compared to all other large counties in the state. This led the Democratic Party of San Diego County to request that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee do a review that will look at deaths that took place in the prison system during the last 15 years. What the DPSD is seeking to achieve is answers as to why the prison system in San Diego County has seen such a large number of deaths and what is being done to address the problem.
Specifically, the lawmakers who made the audit request are inquiring about:
- How the San Diego Sheriff’s Department has acted to lessen incidents of death.
- What the demographics of the deaths are and if minorities are dying at a higher rate than other groups.
- What the sum total was that the county paid to families that took legal actions as a result of death.
- Examine practices and funds used for the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board.
The Sheriff’s Department has accepted the review and is in full cooperation with it.
How Did the Request for the Audit Come About?
The San Diego Union-Tribune did a write-up about the deaths that were occurring in the prison system entitled “Dying Behind Bars.” This article was used by the lawmakers to justify their request for an audit. According to the article, the San Diego County prison system is the sixth-largest in the state of California but has the most deaths. Deaths and suicide are markedly high for inmates in this specific system.
It was found that the prisons were mismanaged in terms of how inmates were treated and what services to which they had access. The article showed that several individuals who died from suicide could have been saved if the suicide-prevention methods were improved and strengthened. Likewise, inmates who had illnesses were not given the quality healthcare they needed.
Potentially preventable deaths present a real tragedy caused by an ill-prepared prison system. This loss of life was also very costly. The prison system had to pay millions of taxpayer dollars to settle legal challenges that resulted.
The next panel of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee will meet sometime this summer. This is when the request for the audit will be seen and if approved, findings would likely be made available by 2022 or earlier. Continue reading