It has been more than two years since an inmate at the San Joaquin County Jail accused jail staff of beating him in a holding cell that wasn’t visible to security cameras – sparking an uproar and calls for more transparency.
But if the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approves San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow’s proposed budget, stories like those – that can’t easily be disproven with security camera footage – will be a thing of the past.
According to Withrow’s monthly social media address to constituents, the sheriff’s office has proposed a budget item that would outfit all of the correctional officers working at the San Joaquin County Jail with body-worn cameras – providing officers with a layer of protection against false accusations while at the same time providing inmates with the security that comes with knowing their interactions will be captured.
The addition will complement the nearly 100 additional security cameras that are currently being installed in the jail to provide additional oversight right as traffic inside of the jail is starting to pick up – now that the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down, things like work crews are being brought back online.
The holding cells where the supposed assault took place in December of 2019 has already been outfitted with cameras to prevent scenarios like one that supposedly took place.
Withrow said that the body-worn cameras, if approved, will give correctional officers peace of mind and will allow those who operate outside of the rule or the law to be held accountable for their actions.
And Withrow hasn’t shied away from holding those that break the law from within his own organization accountable.
Multiple correctional officers have been accused during Withrow’s tenure of sexual assault or similar crimes against inmates or while on duty – prompting an indictment as recently as December of last year. In that case, the correctional officer did not sexually assault a staff member or an inmate, but allegedly committed the act while on duty.
Just over two months before that indictment a correctional officer was found guilty of assaulting prisoners – a development that came nearly two years after another deputy pled guilty of sexually assaulting a female inmate while being transported to the San Joaquin General Hospital for medical care.
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