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Jerry Brown Launches Climate Change Institute, San Diego Jail Deaths, Childbirth Deaths Among Blacks And NCAA Fair Pay

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On Monday, former California Gov. Jerry Brown announced the launch of the California-China Climate Institute at UC Berkeley, which was timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly and Climate Week NYC. Since Sheriff’s Bill Gore took office in 2009, at least 140 people have died in county jails — an average of one in-custody death per month. Plus, black women have a higher chance of dying in childbirth compared to their white counterparts. Two San Diego groups are working to change that. And, some say a California bill could upend college sports by allowing college athletes to cash in on endorsement deals and the use of their likeness.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanagh and I'm Jade Hindman. You didn't really expect Jerry Brown to go quietly into the night. Did you? The former California governor announced Monday. He's launching a new climate partnership between UC Berkeley and she and while university in Beijing, capital public radio has been Adler reports. Jerry Brown acknowledges his new California China climate Institute at UC Berkeley. Comes amid rising tension animosity in competition between China and the U S but in an interview with capital public radio, the former governor says he's not worried about giving China a foothold on one of America's most prestigious research universities.

Speaker 2: 00:38 Climate change is not waiting for politicians to work out their various problems. China is a major player, biggest polluter, biggest investor in renewable technology, and I think California can profit from partnering with them. And so can China profit from partnering with us

Speaker 1: 00:56 since he turned down back in January, Brown has focused his public policy efforts on climate change in his leadership role with the organization that sets the doomsday clock and asked what he does not miss about being governor. He paused to think a moment.

Speaker 2: 01:09 What don't I miss? Let's see. Good question. I, I like my freedom. I definitely enjoy that. But I had, I enjoy being, governor

Speaker 1: 01:18 Brown was scheduled to join China's top climate change official at his institutes launch event in New York city Monday, but his office said a personal matter forced him to remain in California at the state Capitol. I'm Ben Adler reporter Kelly Davis has been covering inmate deaths in San Diego County jails for several years now. She's teamed up with reporters, Jeff McDonald and Lauren Schroeder from the San Diego union Tribune for a watchdog investigative series on the subject. David's is reporting on the jail deaths has received criticism from the Sheriff's department, but the numbers and statistics she's compiled seem to speak for themselves. Joining me is reporter Kelly Davis and Kelly, welcome to the program. Thank you. Could you give us some overall idea of what those numbers I referred to are telling us just how much worse is the death in custody problem in San Diego County jails compared to other counties in the state?

Speaker 3: 02:14 Yeah. So, so what we did is we took a decades worth of data from the six largest jail systems in California. And, um, we calculated using a methodology that is used by the Bureau of justice statistics, uh, which does, um, kind of annual, semi-annual reports on, on, on deaths in jails and prisons. So we use their methodology and looked at the six largest jail systems in California. Uh, we calculated the mortality rate and the suicide rate. And what we found is, is San Diego is really an outlier by far, um, you know, for the last decade and even year by year, uh, lead, uh, the, those six large County jail systems in, uh, both, uh, the death rate

Speaker 1: 03:00 and the suicide rate. Yeah. You're in the, in this series and in the past you've highlighted suicide as a particular issue in San Diego jails. What is the suicide rate compared with other counties?

Speaker 3: 03:12 It's, it's pretty bad here. And you know, I frequently, you know, we'll, we'll look at orange County, which is, which is, you know, our, our closest County, you know, to the North and, and kind of similar to San Diego. And, you know, they'll have years of many years of, of no suicides or one suicide. And here in San Diego we've had, uh, there were multiple years with five and six suicides and, and similar to LA County, you know, they, they, um, you know, they've been able to cut their suicide rate in half. Um, there was a year or recently where they had only one suicide and, and San Diego just consistently sees multiple people each year take their own lives.

Speaker 1: 03:54 The series tells us stories of some inmates who killed themselves in San Diego jail. Can you share perhaps one of those stories

Speaker 3: 04:02 with us? In March of this year, there's a young man named Ivan Ortiz. Um, he had previously tried to harm himself in jail. He had managed to, to break his jaw. He, and he was put in a psychiatric observation unit. Um, the morning of March 18th of this year, he was found with a noose in his cell and ligature marks around his neck. And so they took him out of his cell. They evaluated him and he told medical staff that he felt like MD in his own life. You know, so he said, I, you know, I, I'm, I'd like to, I'm gonna kill myself. Um, they returned him to his cell, um, but somehow he had a, a plastic bag in his cell and he put it over his head and he suffocated himself. This was all caught on, uh, close closed caps or, um, closed circuit. Uh, there's a closed circuit camera that was supposed to be, someone was supposed to be sitting at a bank of screens, you know, and monitoring this young man. And so, um, and they weren't, and he was able to suffocate himself. And it's like, you've got all the training, all the promises, you know, all the, the new new cells, new policies, and here's someone actively suicidal and you couldn't save him.

Speaker 1: 05:19 The article points out that deaths in County jails really started to rise after sheriff Gore took office. Do you have any idea why that is?

Speaker 3: 05:29 You know, there was a contractor who was hired to provide psychiatric services, uh, the CEO of this, this company had, had no experience in psychiatry, no training in psychiatry. So it's like, how did they get the contract? You know, so things like that, um, you know, um, there had been warning signs, um, you know, that they needed to add a great greats or fencing to the second of the jails have set, uh, two tiers and people were jumping and, and so, you know, uh, there was a family of a young man who killed himself by jumping and, and they said, please don't let this happen to anyone again. And that was in 2013, um, you know, following that, there were more suicides from people jumping. They didn't install the greats and the fencing until 2016 and later. And I think some places still don't have fencing.

Speaker 3: 06:25 So, um, you know, there's not one thing we could point to. Uh, you know, if you read the stories, there's, there's just a lot of little things that have kind of added up and a lot of it is, yeah, just warning signs that were ignored or, um, calls for changes and those changes just came too late. Are there any signs that's a situation may improve? Well, th there's, there was a dip in suicides, you know, from 2013 to 2016. Um, there were 22 suicides and then in 2017 there was one 2018, there were four so far this year. We only know of one, although there's a number of deaths that, um, the sheriff won't provide any information to us. You know, the jail has a jail system, has a new commander that we were very impressed with when we spoke with her. So hopefully, um, you know, they, they've heard enough from, you know, outside, um, advocacy groups from, you know, consultants they've brought in.

Speaker 1: 07:22 I've been speaking with a reporter, Kelly Davis. She's teamed up with reporters from the San Diego union Tribune for that watchdog series running now on the subject of jail deaths in San Diego County. Kelly, thank you very much. Thank you. We asked the San Diego County Sheriff's department for its response to the jail death series. The department sent us a statement which reads in part the UT stories do not take into consideration differences in jail systems up and down the state. A simple check of the open justice portal of the California department of justice will show that when all jails within a County are compared, including city jails, which do not exist in San Diego, our in custody death rate is on par with them. You can read the entire Sheriff's department statement on our website, kpbs.org this is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Cavanagh. Tens of thousands of babies are born in San Diego County each year, but giving birth is a risk to both mother and child. Hey, PBS health reporter Taryn mento tells us how San Diego groups are supporting the moms and babies that face the highest rate of death from childbirth

Speaker 3: 08:33 often ask pregnant women the same questions. When do you do? Is it a boy or a girl? Have you picked names? The one you likely don't ask is, are you worried you'll die? But that's all charade. And Johnson could think about sense of pink line told her she was with child. There was a series of drinks. It was haunting actually, so it was, I wouldn't say dreams, nightmares, nightmares that

Speaker 4: 08:56 she or her child would die. She became especially worried when she saw the data. Black women like her are three times more likely to die from childbirth than white women and their kids are twice as likely to play Russian roulette with birth. Right now, Johnson was so worried about becoming a statistic. She wrote a letter to her unborn child just in case

Speaker 5: 09:18 I did that in my phone

Speaker 4: 09:20 with tears welling in her eyes and one rolling down her face. She remembered the message not even her wife

Speaker 5: 09:26 knew about. I remember just saying how much I loved him. Um, and that, you know, if anything did happen, I tried my hardest to hold on,

Speaker 4: 09:36 but she did hold on. She and her wife welcomed a sear Johnson in July. [inaudible] Johnson says she got there thanks to the help of her doula Venice, cotton,

Speaker 5: 09:47 they trust us to know what the doctors are saying.

Speaker 4: 09:52 A doula is an informed and experienced aid who advises a woman before, during, and after child

Speaker 5: 09:58 to know what's going on and what type of complications could arise. And they trust us to be able to explain to them what's going on and let them make the right decisions.

Speaker 4: 10:10 Doulas are pricey and not typically covered by insurance. Limited research available shows they can reduce the risk of complications and low birth weights in the local nonprofit for the village once more women to have them, especially black women. The group is working with project concern international to train doulas and provide them for free, but doulas aren't without controversy, they aren't licensed, so training varies and cotton says medical staff may feel doulas get in their way.

Speaker 5: 10:43 We come in with not medical training but experience and knowledge and a more natural way to do what they do with medicine.

Speaker 4: 10:56 Johnson says cotton support was what she and her wife,

Speaker 5: 10:59 someone to guide that family member and to tell me what to do and to tell her how to help me. It was, it was comforting

Speaker 4: 11:07 that comfort wasn't just during labor. Johnson had prenatal checkups, but cotton was keeping up with her while she was at home.

Speaker 5: 11:14 I would have to send confirming pictures that I was laying in bed

Speaker 4: 11:17 in. The program offers the same support after birth. The other doulas like Kotton visit moms at home before their first postpartum checkup. The additional attention already helped to black moms get to the hospital for life threatening issues that they didn't even know. They had this three D ultrasound. Cotton's continued support. Also how Johnson achieve a positive birth experience with sun. A seer for her first child, McKayla Johnson was induced and reluctantly agreed to an epidural. She wanted a drug free delivery at a birthing center for her son, but needed help getting through final hours of painful contractions.

Speaker 5: 11:56 No, this was getting frustrated. Yes, and so now it's just like, you know what, I'm going to go sit over here. So and with charade, she was being more than stubborn. Okay. She is.

Speaker 4: 12:07 No, but the situation was tense as Johnson begged to go to a hospital, cotton says Johnson didn't show signs of complications, so she pushed her on and Johnson is grateful. Allowing my body

Speaker 5: 12:19 to do what it's made to do isn't the best thing ever. Definitely I would do it again. I would, I'd, I would, I'd risk it all again.

Speaker 4: 12:30 She now plans to support other moms to B Johnson completed doula training at four the village earlier this month and joining me is KPBS health reporter Teran mento Taryn, welcome. Thanks Maureen. You know, just to keep this issue in perspective, I think we should say that it is rare for women to die in childbirth or have any pregnancy issues in the U S there are nearly 4 million births each year and about 700 deaths are related to pregnancy. Right. And thanks for making that point. But we should say that three out of five pregnancy related deaths are preventable. So that almost 60% and those statistics were enough to terrify charade and Johnson. How did you find out about the doula program? She actually found out about it through the founder of for the village, that's the organization that trains the doulas. Her name is Sabya Wade and she met her through social media and they were communicating, never really met face to face, but that's how she learned about the program.

Speaker 4: 13:26 And as this fear started to build within her as she was pregnant, she reached out and got a, got a doula. Tell us what the differences between a doula and a midwife. Right. So a midwife is someone who is licensed to practice medicine. They are certified, they are overseen by the board of medical board of California. A doula is none of that. A doula is not providing medical care, should not be providing medical diagnosis. Um, they are really just there for emotional support. Uh, CBO, Wade, the founder for the village referred to them as an educated best friend. They're there to support you, help you interpret some of the medical jargon and offer you their advice based on their experience and what they learn in training. But they are not there to actually practice medicine. They're just present as support and information. Taryn, if you know, what does the word doula mean?

Speaker 4: 14:21 It's a Greek term for women's servant. And since they don't have any medical training, what kind of training do they have? Primarily experience. They have been at a number of births or they have been trained by a women who have been at a number of births and they, uh, this specific training that they get from, for the villages this weekend training Friday to Sunday. And they are learning and discussing, um, evidence based information about births. If they ever in a situation where, you know, it's their first birth, maybe they don't know what to do. There's a, there's a network where they are communicating with each other as frequently as possible to figure out what to do and how to give the woman the best advice that they can and consulting with, with midwives themselves.

Speaker 1: 15:04 Since black women have a higher maternal death rate than white women in the U S is it safe, especially for them to use the non medically trained helpers?

Speaker 4: 15:13 Right. So the thing to make clear, um, that a lot of, uh, the, the doulas, uh, for the village would probably want me to say is that they're not practicing medicine. So in terms of safety, they're just there to be another source of information, source of support and not just to the woman herself, to the woman's partner. Um, so they're there to offer advice and so you do want to make sure that you'll, you, if you use a doula, wherever they're from, you get references from them, you know, their experience. Um, you ask them maybe their thoughts on this situation versus that situation. Um, so it is, uh, every doula is different. Um, so it is up to the woman to kind of figure out what works for them.

Speaker 1: 15:56 You told us that charade and demanded to be taken to a hospital when she was in childbirth, but the doula encouraged her to keep to the natural birth program. How does the doula know when a woman really needs medical help?

Speaker 4: 16:08 Right. This was a really important question that I wanted answered because if you are not, you know, certified to practice medicine or licensed and you're basing it on experience, how do you know when, what kind of call to make in this situation when you have a woman who's who was, she was saying I was begging to go to the hospital, but it was very important to her. She Raven. She really wanted a natural birth. So I asked this question of the doula Venice cotton and this is what she had to say.

Speaker 5: 16:32 Something like hemorrhaging, you know, I'm looking for bleeding. Um, if there are certain types of pain, if she's complaining of chest pain, you know, or she's complaining of like, right upper quadrant pain. It's just, it's paying attention. It's, you know, having experience as well. You know, the more clients I see, every birth is different.

Speaker 4: 16:50 But she also did say that she's listening to the medical professionals that are there. If they say [inaudible] needed to go to the hospital, then she, then that's what would have happened.

Speaker 1: 16:59 Can a woman use a doula even if she wants to have her baby at the hospital?

Speaker 4: 17:04 Absolutely. And I was talking to Sabya Wade, again, founder for the village and she said most women do have it and have it have their baby in the hospital and the doula will, we'll go along with them and work with the medical professionals there.

Speaker 1: 17:16 So there is cooperation then between the doula program and the medical community?

Speaker 4: 17:21 It was explained to me that yes, that is what they want. They want a collaborative effort. The healthy start program, um, that, uh, the project concern international and for the village teamed up on includes a doula, a midwife and a what they refer to as a health navigator or a health consultant. Someone that is, you know, going to be there offering advice long after the birth up to 18 months. So that is how they work. And then if the woman does and often do want to have their birth in a hospital, they do communicate, um, as much as they can, as much as if a woman wants with the health professionals that are involved in the hospital. Um, as well as ensure Raven's child is doing well, right? Yes. A two months old. Adorable. You'll see photos. If you go to the, the web story. I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter Taryn mento. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 6: 18:10 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Well, many college coaches earn large salaries. The athletes under their guidance are paid and accolades, scholarships and the drive for championship glory. Now California is changing the game of collegiate sports with the fair pay to play act. The bill would allow college athletes to cash in on endorsement deals and the use of their likeness, which is currently against NCAA regulations. The below waits governor Gavin Newsome signature and here to talk about what this could mean for student athletes. Is Alicia Gwynn widow a basketball. Great. Tony Gwynn who herself was a college athlete and when Simon USD school of law, adjunct law professor who had a role in crafting California's fair pay to play act. Welcome to you both. Thank you. So Lynn, I'll start with you. What would California's fair pay to play act to do? If it is signed into law?

Speaker 7: 19:05 It would allow a all California based college students, uh, who play intercollegiate sports to monetize their name, image and likeness. That would mean they could have a Nike contract. That would mean if they had some YouTube things up, they could, uh, they could benefit from that Instagram accounts. Uh, you know, do you know commercials for Cadillac dealers, you name it. They, they could basically take advantage of the rights that all their fellow students have. Because if a kid down the hall, of course was an artist, he could be monetizing his rights for all four years he was at school. But the athletes are currently not permitted to by NCA laws. So what the act does is it, it simply instructs the California schools to allow their students these rights, which are provided by, by California law already. But the college is taking them away in exchange for letting them play ball.

Speaker 7: 19:59 So they're telling them, don't do that. Don't take them away. So what prompted this legislation? Well, a, I mean, it's a complicated story. I wasn't there at the creation in the room, but I wrote an editorial for the San Francisco Chronicle urging this. I teach sports law. People fight about whether the players should be paid salaries, whether they should be able to monetize their name, likeness and image, whether they should just play for the glory of the school or the scholarship they get. And I was sort of a moderate. I thought they should get the name image and likeness money and they should not get salaries cause I saw a lot of complications with the salaries and I wrote a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle saying exactly that. And then later one in the UT saying exactly that a couple of months later when some other things that happened. And lo and behold, Nancy Skinner, who's a a state Senator from Berkeley, uh, put in a bill a little later than what I wrote, saying exactly the same thing.

Speaker 6: 20:57 And Elisia you ran track right here at SDSU and your husband, Tony Gwen was a collegiate athlete as well. Uh, and your children. What are your thoughts on this legislation? I, I'm loving the legislation because people don't understand that scholarship money can only go take you so far. You know, and I have known athletes who could not function well because they needed food to eat. We all reminding of the young man who was at Florida and he got caught stealing and he was stealing because he said he was hungry. And I love this act and I, and I hope it passes because I think the college students need to be in charge of their own likeness and their image. And you know, I'm in charge of my husband's image and likeness and I think they should be in control of it. And I think they should be able to make money off of themselves. And let me ask you both this question because a one big argument against this has been, as soon as you do this past this type of legislation, the competitiveness of collegiate sports goes away. Do you believe that to be true? Do you think that's a legitimate argument? I think that it would create more competitive tennis because everybody is going to work harder. And you know, they're not gonna just give you a contract to do a commercial just because they're going to do it because you possess that quality of being a player.

Speaker 7: 22:25 Yeah, I, I agree with Alicia. I don't think that it interferes with competitiveness. A, what they're really talking about on the other side of this debate is competitive balance. You know, they don't want the same schools to win every year. Although you notice Alabama and Clemson are pretty good at football every year under the current system. And Duke and Kentucky are pretty good at basketball every year under the current system. So I'm not sure what we're protecting, but really the genius of this is that if a 17 year old, a high school athlete has great talent and he's being scouted, recruited by everybody, uh, he could go to any school he wants to and do the same monetization of his rights. Zion Williamson, uh, you know, had 2 million Instagram followers when he graduated from high school. Uh, he could have gotten, if this rule was in effect, he could have gotten a big Nike contract and a big Instagram check if he went to San Diego state, if he went to USD, he could have gone any way. He didn't have to go to Duke. Now the players kind of have to go to the big schools in order to make a big splash and hope to get a big pro contract. But it almost, it almost equals the playing field equalizes the playing field because the, the money is, uh, is portable anywhere you go, if you're good.

Speaker 6: 23:37 Does it give California and unfair recruiting advantage?

Speaker 7: 23:42 Well, it would, it would if, if California passed the law and no one else did anything. But this law is, it's a very moderate law and not only doesn't provide for salaries, but it doesn't go into effect for three years till 20, 23. And I think everybody's expectation is that somehow some way, uh, this is going to become the law in all 50 States or a compromise is going to be worked out. There's laws pending like this, identical or similar in South Carolina, Washington state, Colorado and this week New York. And I don't think the world is going to go forward with some States allowing this and some States not because it sure it would give California to van Zion would, would've played some place in California. He would play to, you know, San Diego state or Berkeley or Stanford or UCLA or someplace. Why not?

Speaker 6: 24:31 If they started to introduce this, this fair pay to play act, do you think that there would be a difference in how much money a, say the men's basketball team makes versus the women's basketball team? Um, I, I don't know that would change it, but it would change the face and the surface of the students. You know, being that they're are able to do a lot of things that they're not able to do, they're able to take care of their living expenses, you know, because those scholarship money, that's great. Get it. I don't think the NCAA has gotten it yet. That is not about them. It's about the players. Yes, they regulate the rules and the laws and stuff. But they haven't gotten it yet that nobody's coming to see the NCAA. They're coming to see the students who play under the NCAA.

Speaker 7: 25:24 Jade, I think that the male female thing, it plays two different ways. I think. No doubt. Again, just using Williamson as an example or to attack Livo loud plays, quarterback for the, for the uh, Alabama. They're going to get the biggest deals. If this was, if this was the law today, they would get the biggest deals. There aren't any female athletes who would get a deal as big as theirs, but there are female athletes who will never earn a nickel off of their exceptional athletic skills because professional opportunities are so little. But if they played, for example, soccer at the university of North Carolina, that's a very popular sport there. They win the national championship half the time. They could be earning checks for four years in college. Again, from shoe companies, they can be doing camps and teams for youth. They could be doing all kinds of things and that's their only opportunity to earn. They're going to have to go get a, you know, go get a normal job when they get out of there. Unless, unless they're good enough to be on the national team, which not very many people are.

Speaker 6: 26:19 Hey, they could win a women's world cup a couple of times. Right. Good.

Speaker 7: 26:24 I mean we won when I testified on the, on the bill up in Sacramento, the woman who testified before me had been a rower at Berkeley and she had a partial scholarship, not even a full, and she had no money. And she said, if I could've done this, I could've gotten $1,000 here and $500 there just from rowing clubs and people, cause I was pretty well known. She was kind of modest. She didn't say that she went to Olympic gold medals later in her life. So she was real good. But she never earned a nickel from, from her, uh, from her fame during her time at, at Cal because she couldn't. And that, that put her essentially in the position Alicia is talking about is like, how do I pay the rent? Where do I get my next meal?

Speaker 6: 27:03 So how much do students stand to to gain with this legislation? I think they a gain a lot, you know, being in charge of your own name, likeness and image says a lot, especially those who are playing at a higher level and are popular. But even those who are not, I think even with the, the woman movement I think is going to get better. And so even just the ones that are not that great, what kid possess quality and can help a company or the commercial or something like that. You can't beat that.

Speaker 7: 27:40 I mean it's really hard to know where this is going to go. I think it's all good, but whether the money is going to be helpful to students or really helpful or gigantic, it's a market. You're just going to have to put it out there and see what happens. It's like, you know, how many iPhones could Apple sell? Well, but I'm out there and we see, right. But I think anybody who tells you they know this is going to be huge or they know this is going to be sort of modest. I think they're making it up as they go along because it's never, never been allowed to happen.

Speaker 6: 28:06 Oh, Elisia Gwen and Lynn Simon, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us. My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me and you're listening to KPBS midday edition.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.