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Advocates react to Sheriff’s proposed plan to modernize jails

 December 15, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday, December 15th.


The sheriff is proposing a 500 million dollar plan to modernize local jails. More on what advocates think about it, next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Officials have identified the Camp Pendleton Marine killed on the base Tuesday.

Sergeant Matthew Bylski of Royal Oak Michigan was just 23 years old when his amphibious combat vehicle rolled over during what the Marines are calling “ground maneuvers.”

Mathew Mcdowell’s son, 1st Lieutenant Conor Mcdowell, was killed on the base in 2019 in a tactical vehicle rollover.

He's worked ever since to force the military to improve safety, but says as long as troops are dying, not enough is being done by their leaders.

“This is not acceptable. The generals have to take responsibility for enforcing the safety of our children.”

Tuesday’s crash is under investigation.

All but one of the 14 Marines sent to the hospital after the rollover, have been released.


Construction has started on a four-story development in San Ysidro that will have 100 affordable apartments.

Iris at San Ysidro will be a transit-oriented housing community, with one, two and three-bedroom apartments for families and people earning less than 60-percent of the area median income.

15 of the apartments will be reserved as permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

It’s expected to be complete in summer 20-25.


The new Major League Soccer team, San Diego F-C, has signed its first player.

Duran Ferree is a 17 year-old youth national goalkeeper from San Diego.

He signed a 4-year contract with the team.

Ferree played last season, in the United Soccer League with the San Diego Loyal.

Before that, he played in other local soccer organizations, including being a goalkeeper for the San Diego Surf Soccer Club.

San Diego F-C will play its inaugural M-L-S season in 20-25.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


San Diego County Sheriff Kelly Martinez has proposed a 500 million dollar plan to modernize local jails over the next 10 years.

Reporter Jacob Aere talked with her about the plan, and with advocates who say it will take more than money to create real change.

Sabrina Weddle is still angry that her brother, Saxon Rodriguez, died inside the San Diego County Central Jail in 2021. Sabrina Weddle Brother Died in San Diego County Jail “We miss our little brother, he should have never died in jail.” He got a hold of fentanyl and methamphetamine inside the facility … and overdosed. Sabrina Weddle Brother Died in San Diego County Jail “To get a phone call that your loved one has died in jail is … you know you think this is a place they're safe. That they're getting help and cared for, and that wasn't the case for Saxon.” Last year a state audit found the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has failed to adequately prevent and respond to the deaths in the jails. Since then, two new bills have become state law. They provide further oversight regarding  jail deaths, mental health and medical healthcare. Paul Parker is executive director of the Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board, which investigates jail deaths. Paul Parker CLERB Executive Director “The sheriff's department has implemented some changes. And so I think that's helpful. But one of the things the sheriff's department is leery to do is to implement some of the policy recommendations that we have made. Specifically about scanning its own employees entering the facilities for drugs.” A grand jury report also recommended scanning for everyone entering the jails. Kelly Martinez San Diego County Sheriff “Body scanning is not something that's really practical or we think we can do with our staff. But there's a lot of things we're doing to keep staff and everyone who's coming into our facilities from bringing contraband inside.” San Diego County Sheriff Kelly Martinez has introduced a wide-ranging 10-year plan to upgrade the region’s aging detention centers. It includes major renovations for the county’s seven detention facilities … with a majority of the money going towards the oldest site – the Vista Detention Center. Kelly Martinez San Diego County Sheriff “A jail built in the 70s wasn't built for the population that we’re serving today. The cells really aren't structured in a way that's therapeutic or helps people with mental illness or the medical needs that we need.” North County Equity and Justice Coalition’s Yusef (Yu-SEF) Miller agrees the facilities need upgrades, but says the issues run deeper than the structures themselves. Yusef Miller North county equity and justice coalition “The families that we represent that have lost loved ones in custody, it wasn't because the walls were cracked, it wasn't because the toilets were broken. It was because they were neglected.” The county is facing multiple lawsuits over in-custody deaths. Weddle is not involved in a lawsuit, but says there were shortcomings by the department in her brother’s death. Sabrina Weddle Brother Died in San Diego County Jail “It's already been determined by CLERB that the sheriffs were responsible for not keeping those drugs out of jails. It was also determined by the medical examiner that the deputies checked him at 65 minutes when they're supposed to check him every 60 minutes.” Martinez says her department’s goal of reducing jail deaths in San Diego County will help to inform the modernization projects. Kelly Martinez San Diego County Sheriff “We look at every death that occurs in our custody and we methodically examine ‘is there something we could have done differently?” Parker says jail deaths are down so far this year compared to last… in part because the anti-overdose drug Naloxone is now available to inmates. And he says medical and mental health screening is more robust now. But he says more needs to be done. CLERB wants jurisdiction over employees who provide medical service in the jails. Paul Parker CLERB Executive Director  “We can't look at any complaints about anybody saying ‘well this nurse didn't do this or this nurse gave me the wrong medication.’ There’s nothing we can do. We want that authority so we get the full picture of the type of care being provided and the deaths that are occuring.” Miller agrees more staff oversight is needed … and says the modernization plan should focus on improved medical care and better mental health treatment. Yusef Miller North county equity and justice coalition “I hope that leads to a drop in loss of life in custody. Most of these people dying are pre-trial which means they died innocently in jail” Weddle says her brother died while waiting to go to court, just four days after his arrest. Sabrina Weddle Brother Died in San Diego County Jail “Justice would be them taking proper care of the inmates in there. They're inmates but they're humans.” Martinez said the sheriff’s department will spend the next few years identifying funding for the modernization project, and hopes construction can begin in four to five years. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


California State University is holding cultural belongings and unburied ancestors of Native American tribes.

Reporter Katie Hyson looked at recent steps to return them.

We're still trying to rebuild our nations from the genocide that happened to our people. It is hard when we know the spirits of our ancestors are locked on shelves. That’s Jack Potter Jr., chairman of the Redding Rancheria tribe of Wintu Indians. Speaking about an audit that found that CSU had almost seven hundred thousand cultural belongings and almost six thousand unburied ancestors. And had only returned six percent of them. Even though federal law required the return process back in nineteen-ninety. Director of CSU’s tribal relations, Maryann Reyes, says they don’t yet know what all those belongings are, which tribes they belong to, even where they’re stored. They are going to look everywhere, sadly, from bookshelves to locked closets to cabinets. Reyes says she doesn’t know why it’s taken so long. The audit found the university hasn’t prioritized it. Legislators are now requiring them to appoint committees and a full-time staff person at every campus to oversee this effort. That’s one hundred and fifty-four vacancies to fill. The beginning of a very long process. And, Potter says, very overdue. Like Moses said to the pharaohs, I say to the USC, let my people go. Katie Hyson, KPBS News.


Some San Diego taxi drivers now have a ride hailing app, just like Lyft and Uber.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about the app that United Taxi Workers will start using tomorrow.

There are still taxi drivers in San Diego despite the storm of changes to the industry brought by ride-sharing companies. And now taxis, dispatched through the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, have a ride-hailing app. UC San Diego communications professor Lilly Irani helped to design it. “So starting Saturday, you can go to your Apple App store, your Google play store and just search for Ride United. Actually Ride United is downloadable already. Irani says today's taxi customers expect to find rides on their phone, not by calling a dispatcher. The director of the United Taxi Workers union says that unlike some rideshare companies , San Diego taxis don’t have surge pricing. And the vast majority of the fares go to the driver. 94 percent, in fact. “There is a six percent technology fee, approved by the city. And that is all we are charging drivers right now.” Company documents show that Uber’s take rate, the amount the company takes for every ride, is 29 percent. Soq. 


Coming up.... It’s almost the weekend! We have details on some arts events this weekend, just after the break.


The holiday season includes an arts event this weekend, focusing on San Diego’s Filipino community.

And education reporter M.G. Perez says it will provide entertainment and a life-saving opportunity.

A dozen members of the Filipino American Women's Club of San Diego County are rehearsing their folk dances…that are included in this Sunday’s Maraya Arts Festival. the South Bay arts group is hosting the day-long event of dance and music performances featuring Filipinos of all ages and abilities. Kandi Custodio-Tan is a spoken word artist who will perform along side both her young children  with special needs. She says it’s about representation. Talking about our heritage our culture our history our ethnicity for us as a family. It's very much about our intersectional identities. The festival will also feature a blood drive encouraging donors from minority communities to participate. According to the San Diego Blood Bank  The best blood type matches are often found between people who share blood type and the same ethnicity. The event happens Sunday at Wilson Middle School in City Heights. MGP KPBS News.


Arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans has some other suggestions for arts events to check out this weekend.

She shared the details with my colleague Jade Hindmon.

She starts by telling us about a hip-hop themed Scrabble night.

In San Ysidro, there's an international group show at The Front gallery. Why is this one on your radar? 

Finally, some music. What's on your radar for live music this weekend?

TAG: That was KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Jade Hindmon. 

You can find details on these and more arts events, at KPBS dot ORG slash ARTS.


That’s it for the podcast today. This podcast is produced by Emilyn Mohebbi and edited by Brooke Ruth. As always, you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join me on your podcast feed on Monday. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.

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San Diego County Sheriff Kelly Martinez has proposed a $500 million plan to modernize local jails over the next 10 years, but advocates say it will take more than money to create real change. In other news, some San Diego taxi drivers now have a ride hailing app. Plus, we have details on some weekend arts events happening in San Diego County this weekend.