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Chair Nathan Fletcher today took action to improve the conditions in County jails for the people in custody and those who work there. He led the way by passing an emergency action to address drug overdose deaths; and also voted to deliver recruitment and retention incentive pay for medical staff in jails and deputy classifications. These actions will accelerate the hiring of new workers department wide and help prevent drug overdose deaths. The emergency measure passed 5 to 0 and the compensation ordinance passed 5 to 0.      

“It has been difficult for the Sheriff’s Department to hire medical staff in our jails to help address drug overdoses and deputies to protect and serve because these are hard jobs. We believe the incentives we approved will help to accelerate hiring, and allow us to more quickly rehabilitate the people in custody.” 

“The compensation ordinance is a companion policy to the emergency measure I introduced because together they deliver more tools and staffing to help save lives and strengthen the department’s ability to remove fentanyl and other drugs from County jails.”

The votes delivered by Chair Fletcher and the other members of the Board will: 

  • Expedite staff incentives and strategies that are included in the Compensation Ordinance of Item 16
  • Explore new strategies for care and safety, including additional wellness teams and expanding access to MAT
  • Have the Sheriff's department to allocate $200,000 for latest body scanner technology, imaging, and other avenues to support efforts to intercept and stop drugs like fentanyl
  • Authorize competitive solicitation for an additional body scanner with the option to purchase up to 8 over the next 5 years.

Chair Fletcher over the years has used his role as a County Supervisor to push for improvements in the County jails. Examples of his past actions include:  

  • In October of 2019, he requested a review of best practices of jail operations and a compilation of recommendations for how the system could improve, many of which are currently underway. 
  • In June of 2020, he introduced a proposal to expand the authority of the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) to increase the ability for civilian oversight of jail operations, and to support CLERB with adequate staffing and resources. 
  • In August of 2020, he brought forward a competing proposal to the then-Sheriff’s proposal to completely privatize medical care in the jails, which could have led to further endangerment of incarcerated individuals. His competing plan failed to get Board support, but ultimately the plan for privatization was later abandoned. 
  • In 2021, along with new Board members, came an increased focus and additional measures to address concerns in jails, including budget priorities to ensure adequate staffing to provide additional behavioral health and medical health for those incarcerated. 
  • In March of 2022, following a State audit that outlined concerns and recommendations related to the care provided in San Diego County jails, Chair Fletcher and Vice Chair Vargas brought forward a proposal to accept the report, pursue the recommendations in the audit, and support legislation that increased standards of care for incarcerated individuals. 
  • In recognition of the staffing shortages and pressures on staff within the jails, in June 2022, the Board approved efforts to explore how to address staffing challenges for public safety officers, including those in detention facilities. As a result of these efforts, at the August 16 Board meeting, there will be proposed updates to the Compensation Ordinance that would create new incentives and classifications to address some of the drastic needs for jail staffing, including medical and behavioral health staff.