San Diego Legislative Leaders Introduce Legislation to Address Inmate Safety and Prevent Deaths of Individuals in Custody
Today, Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-San Diego) was joined by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Assemblymember Chris Ward, Clovis Honore representing the San Diego Racial Justice Coalition and the North County Equity and Justice Coalition, David Lagstein representing SEIU Local 221, and Mr. A.C. Mills, who shared the story about his son Kevin Mills who died while in custody at the San Diego County Central Jail, to announce the introduction of Assembly Bill 2343, the Saving Lives in Custody Act. This bill would ensure the minimum local detention standards are revised to equitably maintain the safety and specialized needs of all incarcerated individuals.
In May 2021, Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber along with the Democratic members of the San Diego Delegation responded to the public concern and reports regarding the high number of deaths in San Diego County jails by requesting a state audit through the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. In February 2022, the State Auditor’s Office released its report with the findings from the audit.
“The audit report revealed disturbing facts regarding the inadequate processes and protocols within county jails,” said Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber. “What was especially unsettling to me is that many of these deaths are preventable. The California Board of State and Community Corrections is tasked with establishing the minimum standards for jail systems to follow, and it is time to update those practices to ensure we are preventing the loss of life due to inadequate medical care for individuals in custody.”
AB 2343 will address systemic deficiencies that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of individuals in jail custody. This bill outlines and revises the Board of State and Community Corrections policies to align with best practices related to performing intake health evaluations, training, conducting safety checks, and addressing the other deficiencies to reduce suicide risk and related health needs.
“My bill is a result of the advocacy of many community groups that have called attention to this issue. I am grateful for my colleagues who have co-authored the audit request last year and are now co-authoring AB 2343. We must continue to do right by those in custody to ensure they are treated with dignity,” said Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber.
What others are saying about AB 2343:
“Every person in custody at a jail is someone’s brother, mother, cousin, or uncle and they deserve adequate medical and mental health care,” said Nathan Fletcher, Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “The Saving Lives in Custody Act establishes standards for delivering treatment to people in our correctional facilities statewide, and directly addresses the concerns outlined in the State Audit of the San Diego County Jails. I want to thank Assemblymember Weber and the entire San Diego delegation for taking swift action to drive change.”
The full text of AB 2343 can be found here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB2343