Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Conditions At San Diego County Jails Frighten Inmates

The San Diego Central Jail on Front Street, August 7, 2018.

Photo by Claire Trageser

Above: The San Diego Central Jail on Front Street, August 7, 2018.

KPBS Midday Edition Segments podcast branding

Inmates in San Diego County's seven jails face conditions they say are filthy and that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19

Aired: April 14, 2020 | Transcript

How are San Diego County's seven jails dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic? The answers depend on who's speaking and differ markedly.

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officials told reporters for The San Diego Union-Tribune that in each jail, testing for the virus is being done, guards and inmates are given cloth masks, sick inmates are evaluated by medical professionals, and hygiene kits are issued to new inmates.

The inmates, however, say many of them are locked down 22 hours a day, no one collects or cleans the masks, none of the common surfaces is wiped down or disinfected, there is no soap in the bathrooms, it takes at least a week to see a doctor and sick inmates are placed in the general population where healthier inmates have to clean up after older and sicker ones.

As of last week, the Sheriff's Department had tested 62 of the more than 5,000 inmates in detention for the virus. Five jail employees and three inmates tested positive.

In addition, a sheriff’s department employee told reporters there is no consistency in the way COVID-19 protection practices are observed, with each of the four shifts at each jail doing their own thing.

Freelance reporter Kelly Davis, who reported on this story with Jeff McDonald for The San Diego Union-Tribune, joins Midday Edition on Tuesday.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.