Jail operations have been under intense scrutiny since the death two years ago of a mentally ill man. This summer three guards were convicted of second-degree murder for beating Michael Tyree to death.
Simitian says he plans to present his proposal at next week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
"Clearly civilian oversight is going to be a key ingredient in terms of preventing a further tragedy somewhere down the road," he said.
Tyree's death spurred the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission that examined operations at the jail and, among other recommendations, stressed the need for meaningful civilian oversight. The commission's chair, retired Judge LaDoris Cordell, says Simitian's proposal is critical to improving conditions at the jail.
"It’s a bold step, but it’s been long needed," Cordell said. "This is going to go a big way to making the jails more humane and protecting everybody who works in the jails as well as the inmates."