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Former Jury Foreman: County Downplayed Las Colinas Prison Findings

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Aired 4/19/09

San Diego County Supervisors responded to seven civil grand jury reports this week, but not in public. The items went by virtually unnoticed on their consent agenda. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

The 19-member civil grand jury worked full time last year to draw attention to problems not being addressed by San Diego public agencies. Almost half of their reports relate to county responsibilities, like deteriorating jails for women and youth and insufficient monitoring of old peoples' homecare.

The county responded to the reports within the legal time limit. But former grand jury foreman David Higgins says with no public discussion, the supervisors are downplaying the findings.

Higgins : The opportunity I think they missed yesterday .. discussing the reasons they support or do not support specific recommendations, and they could have done that in a public form and that would have been a huge contribution to transparency in government.

The county disagreed with one grand jury finding that awful conditions at Las Colinas Women's jail -- compared with conditions in men's jails -- is evidence of gender bias. But supervisors did say replacing Las Colinas jail is their number one renovation priority.

Alison St John, KPBS News.

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