Letters to the Editor

SLO County Jail, which is not a mental hospital, was forced to regularly act as one

San Luis Obispo County Jail
San Luis Obispo County Jail jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

In late 2014/early 2015, I was hired as a correctional deputy assigned to the San Luis Obispo County Jail under the leadership of Sheriff Ian Parkinson and Undersheriff Tim Olivas. Within two months, I resigned. Since then, I have kept informed about local crime and policy issues, including the in-custody deaths.

I feel uniquely positioned to explain what I saw during my short time in County Jail.

I saw a suicide attempt prevented due to the fast intervention by a senior deputy. I saw a nearly immediate response time to an inmate hurting himself using any means possible during a psychotic tantrum. I saw deputies successfully subdue a body-lice ridden, violent and mentally unstable inmate. One shift, an inmate was stopped from beating himself silly against his own jail cell walls. I saw altercations avoided and irrational drug addicts during withdrawals. Clothes were thrown by inmates who refused to even wear them, and human feces became a tool to be tossed at staff.

In the deputies and leadership, I saw professionalism. I saw a culture with no tolerance for inmate abuse. Inmate and staff safety were both paramount.

I also saw the jail, which is not a mental hospital, forced to regularly act as one.

Joel Miller, Arroyo Grande