San Diego Jails Struggle With Fentanyl Overdoses and Deaths: How the Sheriff’s Department is Responding


Documents received by CBS 8 state that from January 1, 2023, to December 11, 2023, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department took more than 1,200 grams of fentanyl from San Diego County jails. This was the largest amount of any drug recovered.

The numbers show the fentanyl disaster in the county and across the country, as well as continued issues in jails across the country. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department told CBS 8 that they are constantly fighting drug use in their centers by filling in gaps and providing more medical care.

The department has been attacked in recent years for more than just drug use. Conditions in jails and deaths in prison have also been points of contention.

Two deaths in 2022 were described in detail in cases filed earlier this year. This made people pay more attention to how the county handles drugs in detention centers. In both cases, the guys who sued overdosed.

Analyzing the Data

From January 2023 to December 11, 2023, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department took 3,316 grams of drugs from the county’s seven jails.

It was fentanyl that was found in most prison centers this year, but meth and marijuana came in at 850 grams and 545 grams, respectively.

According to the data, the most fentanyl was found in local jails in September and October. In September, 180 grams was found, and the next month, 406 grams was found. In August, police found 50 grams of fentanyl, and in November, they found 54 grams.

More information from the Sheriff’s Department shows that Narcan has been given to people in jail more than 130 times this year who are thought to be overdosing.

San Diego Jails Continue to Suffer Problems

Recently, San Diego County has been criticized for the state of its jails and the number of people who have died while in prison.

The state auditor said in a harsh report in 2022 that the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department “failed to prevent and respond to deaths” in county jails.

This study said that from 2006 to 2020, 185 inmates died in San Diego County Jail. This was one of the highest death rates in the state. There have been over 40 deaths in jail since then.

In September, two cases said that sheriff’s officers were involved in or allowed drug sales to happen in county jails, which led to deaths from overdoses. The claims said that jail staff did not get the two men medical help right away, even though it was clear that they were in serious need.

During that time, the sheriff’s office rejected claims that officers were involved in drug dealing.

The Sheriff’s Department Manages the Problems

Over the last few years, authorities in the sheriff’s department have worked to implement improvements.

Lt. David LaDieu, the director of media relations at CBS 8, responded to the statistics on drug seizures by saying that the department has reviewed its procedures for preventing narcotics from entering its buildings. He said that as a result, openings and possible entrance sites were reinforced.

“We have seen record interceptions at the point of booking where narcotics were removed from individuals who were attempting to smuggle them into the jails,” the statement continued. “These interceptions have had a direct impact on the decrease of overdoses taking place within the facilities.”

According to the sheriff’s office, a Contraband and Narcotics Interdiction Team is specifically trained in identifying and stopping narcotics upon intake. The squad employs information-led policing and body scanners.

Upon entering detention, all individuals undergo voluntary urine screens to determine the appropriate course of treatment for any drugs present in their system, in addition to medical and mental health exams.

According to the statement, authorities are “conducting better and more thorough searches” of residences and of individuals who enter the prisons. Among these tactics are the department’s employment of K9s trained to sniff for narcotics and its centralized mail processing system for drug detection.

The department further prioritizes damage prevention. Staff members in jail are equipped with Naloxone, which may now be administered to oneself.

Said Lt. LaDieu, “This change has saved lives.”

Lt. LaDieu reports that over 600 individuals are enrolled in an extended program that offers medicine for withdrawal along with individual and group therapy sessions. The agency said that it will use $500,000 from an opioid settlement to increase the amount of inmates who receive evidence-based therapy.

It is illegal to possess or deal with drugs while incarcerated. The district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office reportedly collaborated to raise the prosecution rate for these offenses to 96%.

Lt. LaDieu continued, “There is an amazing amount of work being done.”

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.