SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A retired judge will chair a 25-member commission compiled to review jail operations in response to an inmate death in Santa Clara County Jail two months ago.
LaDoris Cordell, who was San Jose’s independent police auditor from 2010 until retiring earlier this year, will head the commission, which she said will make recommendations to make sure the late August death of 31-year-old Michael James Tyree, an inmate at the county’s Main Jail in San Jose, doesn’t happen to anyone else.READ MORE: California Drought: Healdsburg Bans Sprinklers; Sets Personal Water Use To 74 Gallons A Day
Santa Clara County taxpayers deserve to know what happens within the jails since they financially support custody operations and salaries for the Sheriff’s Office, Cordell said.
Board of Supervisors president Dave Cortese announced other appointments to the commission during a news conference at the County Government Center in San Jose Monday.
“These commissioners have been selected to serve because of their unique individual perspectives as to how best to move our current mindset and thought process when it comes to incarceration to a more holistic approach that better serves the public and keeps inmates, custody staff and visitors safe,” Cortese said.
Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Ken Yeager, Sheriff Laurie Smith, District Attorney Jeff Rosen and John Hirokawa, undersheriff and corrections chief, have already been named to the commission prior to Monday’s announcement.
The county received 96 applications earlier this month to fill the remaining spots representing other views including members of the clergy, civil rights, inmate rights and mental health communities.
Other appointees include retired Judge Susan Bernardini, active Judge Stephen Manley, county behavioral health board member Gail Price and former Sunnyvale City Councilman Otto Lee.
There is also one alternate, Ann Rosenweig with the human rights nonprofit Amnesty International, who will participate as required by the commission’s chair.
One reason why Cordell said she committed to the group was because of the transparent process, which will lead to more accountability.READ MORE: Update: One Killed, Two Injured When Truck Crashes Into Diners at San Jose Sports Bar
A few issues Cordell said she would like the commission to look into are how correctional officers deal with inmates suffering from mental illness, the background and requirements of jail staff and civilian oversight on the inmate complaint process.
She hopes the commission will complete its work 120 days, or four months, after the first meeting and at the end make recommendations for the board’s consideration.
She estimates the meetings to be held twice a month, possibly midday on Saturdays to accommodate people working during the weekdays.
Cordell was first African-American woman appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1982 as a judge in Northern California where she served in municipal court in Santa Clara County, according to San Jose city officials.
She was elected as judge to Superior Court in San Jose in 1988 and continued to serve for 10 years.
While independent police auditor, Cordell criticized the San Jose police for their “curb sitting” practice, in which people detained by officers had to sit on a curb, and long investigations into police misconduct.
She was also appointed in 2013 to lead an 18-member task force on race relations at San Jose State University after alleged hate crimes against a black freshman student by four Caucasian roommates at an on-campus housing unit.
Three correctional deputies, Jereh Lubrin, 28, Matthew Farris, 27, and Rafael Rodriguez, 27, have been charged with murder and assault under the color of authority on Juan Villa, another inmate just moments before Tyree’s death, prosecutors said.
The trio is on paid administrative leave and out of custody on $1.5 million bail each. Their next court hearing was scheduled for Nov. 9.MORE NEWS: San Francisco Police Arrest Serial Burglary Suspect
© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.