December 3, 2023
The central jail on Entrance Road in downtown San Diego. Photograph by Chris Stone

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Division has agreed to undertake measures aimed toward mitigating the danger of COVID-19 transmission in jails, following a settlement accredited Friday.

The case stemmed from a class-action lawsuit that challenged jail coronavirus protocols.

The lawsuit, filed in 2021, alleged that sheriff’s officers weren’t taking sufficient steps to guard inmates from contracting COVID-19, particularly those that have been notably weak to an infection.

By way of October of final yr, greater than 4,600 individuals examined constructive for COVID-19 within the county’s jails and no less than six died of the virus, in line with attorneys representing a gaggle of inmates who filed swimsuit.

Per the settlement settlement, the sheriff’s division has agreed to a number of measures, which embrace:

  • making a immediate dedication of whether or not individuals held within the jails are at heightened threat for extreme sickness or loss of life as a consequence of COVID-19, and to promptly place these at excessive threat into extra protecting housing;
  • offering entry to COVID-19 checks with immediate notification of check outcomes;
  • distributing masks in line with CDC requirements;
  • making certain common entry to cleaning soap and cleansing provides, and
  • offering clear COVID-19 vaccine info, developed by well being professionals at UC San Francisco particularly for people who find themselves incarcerated.

In a press release, the sheriff’s officers mentioned, “Guaranteeing the security, safety, well being and well-being of people in our county jails will all the time be a precedence for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Division. All through the COVID-19 pandemic, the sheriff’s division took proactive steps to make sure our seven detention services adopted strict tips to attenuate the unfold of COVID-19.”

Sheriff’s officers mentioned a lot of safeguards have been carried out to deal with the virus, together with vaccine availability for all individuals in custody, particular housing models to separate the sick from the wholesome, masks distribution, every day temperature checks and elevated cleansing and disinfecting.

Jonathan Markovitz, an legal professional with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs, together with two different regulation companies, mentioned, “Immediately is an effective day as a result of this settlement will present significant safety towards COVID-19 transmission within the San Diego County jails.”

He and different attorneys who filed the lawsuit mentioned the problems highlighted of their criticism spoke to bigger issues concerning county jail situations and the variety of deaths amongst incarcerated individuals regionally.

Geneviéve Jones-Wright, govt director of Group Advocates for Simply and Ethical Governance, mentioned, “As we’re heading in the right direction for our native jails to outpace the jail deaths at Rikers Island for a 3rd consecutive yr, I see this settlement as one step of, hopefully, many to carry our sheriff accountable for retaining incarcerated individuals in her division’s care protected, wholesome and alive.”

– Metropolis Information Service