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Conditions At San Diego County Jails Frighten Inmates

The San Diego Central Jail on Front Street, August 7, 2018.
Claire Trageser
The San Diego Central Jail on Front Street, August 7, 2018.
Inmates in San Diego County's seven jails face conditions they say are filthy and that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19

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.

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