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Families of inmates who died in custody respond to scathing audit on county jails

The audit said the jails in the county are so bad that lawmakers need to intervene, adding the department failed to prevent & respond to deaths of people in custody

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A group of community leaders in San Diego County responded to a new report out about county jails on Friday.

The audit released by the state said the jails in San Diego County are so bad that state lawmakers need to intervene. It also said the sheriff department failed to prevent and respond to deaths of people in their custody.

Many families of men and women who died in custody spoke out on Friday expressing their pain and sadness. They believe the audit is a step in the right direction, but it may not paint the full picture. They said the want justice, but they don’t know when they will see it.

“My brother was 22 for 19 days. Whether he did drugs or not, his death was preventable. Yet I have to stand here with many other families who have lost lives. These people didn’t die of heart attacks or natural causes. They said there was no foul play, but everything is foul about this. Everything,” said Sabrina Weddle. Weddle is the sister of Saxon Rodriguez, a 22-year-old who reportedly overdosed on Fentanyl while in custody in July 2021.  

The family is demanding answers and feels they are not getting them.

Rodriguez’s death occurred three weeks after this audit was ordered. This means he is not among the 185 dead inmates that were highlighted in this report that spans from 2006 to 2020.

The state auditors report concluded that the sheriff’s department failed to adequately prevent and respond to the deaths in the jail. They added that they think lawmakers need to get involved.

The opening letter of the audit stated, "The high rate of deaths in San Diego County's jails (as) compared to other counties raises concerns about underlying systemic issues with the Sheriff's Department's policies and practices,"

In response to the audit, retired Sheriff Bill Gore said the department plans to hire 250 more people including medical staff to work in San Diego County jails.

WATCH RELATED: State auditor issues scathing report on San Diego County jail deaths

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