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AMADOR COUNTY JAIL

Authority For Review

Grand Jury Jurisdiction provided by Penal Code Section 919(b).

Background

Mandatory annual review of operations.

Method of Review

Interview with Sheriff
Interview with Jail Commander
Review of Inmate Grievance Reports
On-site visit

Findings

The county jail has a capacity of 54 men and nine women. The current average population numbers in the low 40's with about 50% from out of the county. Jail population was 50 at the time of the visit. Up to 16 beds could be added to meet future needs.

The detention area of the jail consists of four self-contained areas called pods. Each pod consists of an open area and two tiers of cells with remote controlled doors. The doors are locked at night or when otherwise required. When not locked down, inmates are able to use the open area in each pod. This is also where meals are served.

A central control room permits visual monitoring of all pods. Small areas of each pod are not within view of the control room. The control room is staffed by two officers at all times.

The control room officers monitor the cells and have additional administrative duties. At one point during our visit, one officer was occupied with taking and entering booking information for a new arrival. The other officer was checking the incoming mail for contraband.

The control room was jammed with equipment and furniture. Located in front of the observing officer were a large number of pigeonholes for storing documents related to the prisoners.

The State has recommended that an additional officer be assigned to roam the detention area to provide better monitoring and security.

Trustees are used for work assignments outside the jail. The work crews perform a variety of clean-up, repair and improvement projects for public agencies in the county. This results in cost savings to the agencies served. In emergency situations, such as the 1997 flooding, work crews are also used for public assistance. Only inmates with no out-of-county warrants and no history of violence are used on the work crews.

A county health nurse visits regularly to provide health checks including HIV testing.

Public visitors to the jail enter through the sheriff's office lobby. Office staff communicate with the public through a security glass window separating the lobby from the office area. However, the office door adjacent to the window remains a standard hollow core interior door.

In reports by the 1994-1995 and 1995-1996 Grand Juries, it was recommended that damaged or missing ceiling tiles be replaced. During our visit, it was noted that ceiling tiles are still damaged or missing.

Conclusions

Officers in the control room are potentially distracted from their monitoring duties by their administrative duties.

Security for staff and inmates would be enhanced by the addition of a third officer on the jail floor.

Office staff security would be enhanced by a door that is consistent with the security window in the front lobby.

Replacement of ceiling tiles, while desirable, is not a pressing issue.

Recommendations

Assign an additional officer to the jail area.

Replace the office door in the lobby with a security door.

Response Required

The Amador County Grand Jury requests the Amador County Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff's Office respond within 90 days as required by Penal Code Section 933(c).
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