Table of Contents


Inmate Treatment at Amador County Detention Facility

Reason for Review

An inmate at the Amador County Detention Facility (Jail) filed a complaint with the Grand Jury against a specific correctional officer at the jail.  The complaint alleged unfair, verbally and physically abusive treatment and racial discrimination by the named correctional officer toward the complainant.  The Grand Jury is required to investigate activities with regard to the jail pursuant to Penal Code Section 919(b).

Background

On August 1, 2000, the complainant filed a Trustee Application Form to request becoming a trustee of an outside work crew.  The correctional officer named in the complaint is the officer who selects and runs the trustee work crews. 

On August 9, 2000, the named officer and the complainant conducted an informal meeting to discuss the complainant’s status of becoming a trustee.  One of the surveillance cameras in the jail recorded this meeting on video tape.  The complainant alleges the officer was unfair, abusive and discriminating during this meeting, and he alleges his request to be a trustee was denied based on his race.  He also alleges that the officer approached him in a physically threatening manner. 

The complainant claims he was denied a grievance form when he requested one, and when he asked for the reason why his request to be a trustee was denied, he claims the staff wouldn’t give him the reason.

Methodology

Members of the Grand Jury conducted interviews, toured the jail facility, viewed the video tape of the alleged incident, and reviewed pertinent documentation.  

Persons interviewed:

Documents examined:

Other sources:

Facts

1.       As of August 28, 2000, no complaints have been filed against the named correctional officer within at least the last five years.

2.       Being a trustee is a privilege, not a right.  The sheriff’s department takes multiple factors into consideration when making an inmate a trustee, such as skills necessary, inmate’s attitude, whether or not the inmate is sentenced, etc.

3.       The interview between the work crew supervisor and the inmate (complainant) regarding his trustee status was just informational; no inmates were being made trustees at that time.

4.       A variety of ethnicities have been represented on the work crews in the past.

5.       The pertinent section of the video tape of the incident was just over a minute, with a frame taken every three seconds.

6.       The surveillance camera that recorded the incident was not in the room where the meeting took place on August 9, 2000.  The meeting was in a room with a large window, just off the booking area.  The video camera was in the booking area.

7.       The jail’s staff did not give the complainant a grievance form when he requested one, citing that his complaint was not grievable.

8.       The pertinent section in the Grievance Policy & Procedure states, “Inmates of the Amador Detention Facility may appeal and have resolved grievances relating to any conditions of confinement, included but … not limited to: …; classification actions; …; program participation; …; or other problems concerning facility or staff.”

9.       The “Staff Comments” section of the complainant’s Trustee Application Form was not filled out, except for a date and signature by the correctional officer named in the complaint.

Findings

1.       There was no evidence of racial prejudice or of verbally or physically abusive treatment toward the complainant in this case.

2.       Due to the location of the surveillance camera relative to the room where the meeting between the correctional officer and the inmate took place, the quality of the audio and video on the tape made it difficult to draw conclusions. 

3.       The correctional officer should have filled out the “Staff Comments” section of the complainant’s Trustee Application Form as to why his request had been denied.

4.       The officer told the inmate (complainant) that the reason his request was denied was “because of (his) attitude.”

5.       The staff should have given the inmate a grievance form when he asked for one.

Recommendations

1.       In accordance with the Grievance Policy & Procedure, make the Grievance Form more accessible to inmates who request them.

2.       The appropriate officer should fill out the “Staff Comments” section of the Trustee Application Form when the application is denied, stating specific reason(s) for the denial and actions the inmate can take for his application to be reconsidered.

Implementation Status of Recommendations

The two recommendations have already been accepted and implemented by the Amador County Sheriff’s Department.  The Jail Manual has been revised to reflect these changes.  

No further response is necessary.