Grand Jury: San Diego jails lack services for long-term inmates

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The San Diego Sheriff’s Department is falling short in how it’s treating inmates who are serving longer sentences.

At least that’s the conclusion of the county grand jury.

Nearly five years ago, the California State Legislature passed something called AB-109, which took some of the people who were sentenced to state prison and moved them into county jails.

To read the full report, click HERE

In writing this report, the grand jury visited all seven adult detention centers in the county and found that the sheriff’s department has ignored the needs of these inmates.

County jails are no longer just for short-term stays.

It’s been almost five years since California lawmakers approved a policy called, "realignment" a practice that sends more non-violent offenders to county jails instead of state prison.

It’s a big shift that means jails have to operate differently, but grand jury said that hasn’t happened in San Diego.

The grand jury said about one-third of the county’s inmate population is there for at least six months or longer.

They said the county should work on a three to five year plan to change practices for long-term inmates.

The panel also found few opportunities for physical exercise, just cement cages now, but no equipment or athletic shoes.

Prisoners also had extremely limited social visits, just two 30 minute sessions a week with no contact in the same room for male prisoners.

There was no access to computer assisted learning or vocational training for jobs once prisoners had served their time.

In San Diego County, only inmates at Las Colinas, the women’s jail, are able to have physical contact during visits.

The grand jury’s report cites studies that show prisoners who can maintain close family ties are less likely to return to jail. The report also had recommendations for making some of these changes.

Some of the suggestions seem relatively straightforward, such as offering inmates classes through some of the local colleges and high school districts.

Other changes are more complicated and more costly. For example, men’s jails, which are older, would have to be re-modeled to provide rooms for family visits.

The sheriff’s department now has 90 days to respond to the grand jury’s findings and recommendations.

Categories: Local San Diego News