Staffers allege mismanagement at the SLO County Jail

June 30, 2018

SLO County Jail medical services manager Avery Paulson flipping off the camera and supervisor Bonnie Pokoo-Aikins holding what appears to be a beer.


Amid allegations of mismanagement, incapacitated staffers and failures to provide proper medical care, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson hired more administrators and modified procedures. Changes some staffers say have not improved jail patient care. [Cal Coast Times]

Following a $5 million medical malpractice settlement, San Luis Obispo County officials have boasted of changes they have made at the county jail including the hiring a chief medical officer and additional supervisors. Medical personnel who multiple staffers say do not participate in the day to day medical care of the inmates.

For years, inspection reports provided documentation that the county has failed to comply with state requirements regarding adequate staffing and medical policies and procedures. In 2015, inspectors found that “the workload capacity of meeting the needs of the inmate medication administration program as it currently exists is prohibitive.”

Earlier this year, the county announced the hiring of a chief medical officer who is now responsible for clinical decisions, operations and policies related to inmate’s medical and mental health care. But Dr. Christy Mulkerin, a pediatrician, does not see patients.

While the number of registered nurses providing day-to-day care of inmates has remained consistent, the county has hired additional management staffers. These staffers have filled newly created positions and also slots left vacant after several supervisors were determined to be under the influence while working at the jail.

On June 7, 2016, then jail medical supervisor Susan Cameron allegedly distracted her coworkers with cake before stealing an inmate’s prescription methadone. A security camera caught Cameron stealing and ingesting the opioid.

The next day, Cameron was discovered unresponsive with foam coming from her mouth. Cameron was given a shot of Narcan, an opioid blocker that can reverse an overdose, and transported to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

County officials had promoted Cameron to the supervisor position after her predecessor was found passed out in the jail medication room.

County employees, who requested anonymity because they fear retaliation, said supervisors provide little day-to-day patient care and are often seen socializing and acting inappropriately.

“We are so understaffed and the supervisors are not helping, said a long-time medical staffer at the jail. “We just have a huge volume and people fall through the cracks. We don’t have the staff to see them.”

Recently, two supervisors at the jail, Avery Paulson and Bonnie Pokoo-Aikins, were photographed at work with Pokoo-Aikins holding what appears to be a beer and Paulson flipping off the camera.

Sheriff department spokesperson Tony Cipolla said Paulson and Pokoo-Aikins were having a “light-hearted moment,” and that the beer was a “prop.”

Even so, several medical staffers said that joking about drinking at the jail is inappropriate.

Since 2012, 12 inmates have died and many others have been injured while in jail custody, primarily because of medical issues.

In the majority of those deaths, county staffers allegedly failed to provide medical assistance, check on inmates as required by department policy or protect inmates from abuse or neglect.

“The people who need to be held responsible are all the supervisors who knew what was going on and did nothing,” a jail medical staffer said. “They all knew what was going on.”


This is what happens when you hire all the cronies from other agencies. Word on the street is that if you are retiring from CHP, Local Police Agency, etc the Sheriff’s Department wants you. These are people who have retired but want to fill their pockets with another agencies benefits. Seriously, cronyism is rapid at the Sheriff’s Department in all areas. How about the Deputy in his Mustang (hired from another agency after retirement) going down Los Osos Rd with a passenger, gun in the car, drunk going 100 mph – Is he still on the force? Now we have Bodine on the front page of the Tribune, driving on the beach with 3 passengers, empty beer bottles and test out at .013 (.008 is intoxication). Come Ian, Step up to the plate and do the right thing.

A pediatrician! Susan Cameron! All those retired buddies! You are better than this (or should be)…


Bob Adams, Jim Gardiner, Dan “The Coward” Blanke – here you go. This is the shit that goes on at our Sheriff’s Department. Each one of you condone this type of behavior. Ethically each of you are a failure. A dismal example of marginalized mediocre public employees. You defend an administration that openly lies (Which story will Parkinson give the FBI? There are many to choose from). An administration that spins false news (Death threats? Really? Anyone arrested?) An administration that is corrupt (Parkinson – how many DUIs have you made disappear for your rich cronies? Orradre pay attention. Your name is on that ledger and reported to MADD).

Gardiner and Blanke – you both conspired to cover up a porn ring involving the SLOPD watch commander’s computer. What else did the two of you cover up?

Jorge Estrada

What would your team photo be when working under a constant barrage of media hate mail? I have to believe that there are good public servants who are being unjustly punished.


Mt team would be fired for flippin’ off the public while sportin’ a fake beer showin’ off their “It’s Miller Time” attitude in the current atmosphere, especially under the barrage of legitimated media that would surely pick up on this. There is a problem at the county jail, one that seems to be an accumulation of denial, coverup and administrative ineptness, and to be so cavalier in the midst of this just goes to the point that these folks are comfortable in the knowledge that the majority are just fine with all of it.

What’s next Jorge? Maybe cheap a$$ overcoats with ” ‘I really don’t care, do u?’” on ’em? Yea! I betcha your t-shirt response would be somethin’ like “hell no, not me!”


Stop the personal attacks, stop posting about the other commenter.

Comment about the issues in the article, not each other.

Stop it.

Jorge Estrada

I agree with much of what you say regarding problems at the jail, that is the place where problems go. Every jail or prison has it’s problems, my mom says, “if you swim with the fish you’ll smell like a fish”. We pay our public servants to do this dirty work and how they cope on a day to day basis for this line of work is beyond me, definitely that work is not for anyone. I’m grateful for those who can and certainly do not expect perfection where un-perfection has to be managed. In my opinion, the public should know that jails are a bad place to stay and should be avoided.


Problems do go there, for a reason. No, not to exacerbate them by making more problems, but to control them. No body is even suggesting perfection, what we expect is professionalism, the type of professionalism that would dictate at the least accountability and transparency.

Their training, and high pay, are the things that help them cope, or are suppose to. There is tons of services for LEO’s to search out help if their coping reaches the brink, their union demands it and their insurance covers it. Really though, if it becomes so bad as not to be able to cope and you continue, and it reaches the point of criminality, that’s nobody’s fault but the person in question and his or her supervisor.

““if you swim with the fish you’ll smell like a fish”? What does that mean? Does it mean we go so far as to excuse the cop who burglarizes because he’s in contact with burglars, or even to the point of killing someone because he or she has contact with murders? Where would that stop and how would that encourage accountability?

Jorge, evidently you’ve never spent a day in jail, and good for you! But those of us that have know for a fact that in a world of fish in those places the LEO’s who work there are the true sharks of the tank, sharks that all too often hide behind their authority to perpetrate some of the most heinous crimes you’d never want to hear about. The chit at SLOCJ is just an example of how depraved some of these LEO’s can get, how the power of their position goes to their heads at the cost of those they’re charged to protect and how the public doesn’t want to hold them accountable.

The public does know, as you so apply exemplify, but in general as long as they aren’t there they don’t give a rats a$$. Lock ’em up, beat ’em up and even kill ’em! The general population doesn’t care. And in the long run, the only time it really matters is when you, the tax payer, has to pay the bill, then everyone is up in arms.


It can also be said this way: What would your team photo be when you know you know you can almost never get fired regardless of what you do both on and off the job. You can cheat, steal, be drunk or high at work, work or not work and when ready retire at an age far younger than most with a pension at 100%+ of your working salary that you were allowed to pension spike just before your retirement, plus benefits for life, all from a system broken and that steals from the taxpayers. you also can resume work and collect a salary plus full pension? I think the above photo matches this statement perfectly.


This is what you get when you have employees who feel they can do anything they want without fear of being held responsible or fear of losing their jobs, plus they know they can always retire, even early, and still receive a 100%+ pension from a broken system on the backs of the taxpayers and walk away scot free. Fire them all but we all know that will never happen.


Well, what would one expect? The voters didn’t hold Sheriff Parkinson accountable, showed they didn’t give a rats a$$ about the abuse and death on his watch, and now he does exactly what a uncontrolled, unaccountable and enabled bureaucrat would do, hire more just like him. The FBI will hopefully do what the citizens of SLO are either unwilling or unable to do…


The County needs to quit hiring paper pushing management with no medical experience and start hiring jail nurses. The county needs to allow nurses who want overtime to work for it, even if it puts them over their 40 hours. The county needs to allow other types of county nurses who might not work at the jail but wants more hours to be cross trained. The people in positions of power need to understand that our society is aging, it is becoming sicker with more complex medical conditions. They need MORE nursing staff to provide the care these long term inmates need, not more managers. Honestly, is there no common sense these days?


You mean more nurses not opting for photo shoots?