by Photo courtesy of San Diego County jail

The board of supervisors unanimously approved Tuesday to respond with new measures to a state audit that singles out the county for a high number of deaths in custody, and warns that "deficiencies" of wardens may have contributed to those deaths.

The board approved adopting recommendations from a state audit that identifies San Diego as the worst county for the care of people detained in jails.

"A stint in jail shouldn't cost anyone their life," said Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher; Vice President Nora Vargas said the seven jails in the county need more transparency and accountability.

In the past 15 years, county jails have killed 185 detainees in custody, more than almost any other jail system in the state.

San Diego County jails had the most deaths in 2021. 

"I am heartbroken and outraged by the high number of deaths in our county jails," Vargas said.

Supervisors approved to adopt the State Auditor's recommendations in reviewing the San Diego Sheriff's Department earlier this year.

The board will sign into law the recommendations of the state's audit of local jails and have the county work with the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board to enforce the new measures.

The state audit reads that "our review identified deficiencies in the way the sheriff's department provides care and protects incarcerated people, which likely contributed to in-custody deaths."

It adds, "we believe the legislature should take action to ensure that the sheriff's department implements meaningful changes."

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