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AMADOR COUNTY PROBATION DEPARTMENT

Authority for Review

Grand Jury jurisdiction provided by Penal Code Section 925.

Background

Periodic review of County agencies.

Method of Review

Interview with Chief Probation Officer
Interview with a Deputy Probation Officer
Interview with Amador County Superior Court Judge
On-site visit

Findings

The Probation Department offices are in an old wood frame house located behind the Superior Court in Jackson. There is no entrance lobby and the secretarial work area is directly inside the front door. The other offices are immediately accessible from the entry area.

The Chief Probation Officer (CPO) is appointed by the Superior Court Judge. Deputy Probation Officers (DPOs) are hired by the CPO. The Department is budgeted separately from the Courts.

The Department consists of the CPO, six DPOs, two legal secretaries, one half-time Work Program (community service) Coordinator, six part-time transportation officers and six mediators on contract.

The Probation Department performs several functions at the direction of the Court. The Department's responsibilities include supervising adults and juveniles on probation, processing arrested juveniles, administering the community service Work Program, preparing pre-sentencing reports, supervising the Diversion Program, and performing Family Court Services including mediation.

Amador County has no long-term juvenile detention facility. There is a two room, four bed short-term facility called the Special Purpose Juvenile Hall. These rooms are located in the same building as the District Attorney's office. Juveniles are housed in this facility until released to a parent or transferred to a detention facility in another county. The typical detention at this secured facility lasts three to four hours.

Most juveniles detained are transferred to the San Joaquin County Juvenile Hall. San Joaquin County charges $62 per day for each juvenile held there. If San Joaquin does not have space, the DPO must arrange for placement in a juvenile facility in another county. The Department's Transportation Officers are paid by the hour.

The Special Purpose Juvenile Hall is not staffed unless a juvenile is being detained there. During evenings and weekends, a DPO is on call in the event an arrested juvenile is brought to the facility.

Sometimes juveniles being brought to court are held for two to three hours in the Probation Department Office.

The more than 650 adults on probation and diversion are supervised by a single DPO. Probationers are required to maintain regular contact with the Probation Department. The officer supervising adults is expected to verify addresses and ensure that probationers are abiding by the conditions of their probation. However, because of the large number of probationers, the officer must use discretion as to amount of individual supervision given.

Conclusions

The physical layout of the Probation Department Office does not provide adequate security for the personnel.

The courts are highly dependent on the services provided by the Probation Department.

Because the Department is budgeted separately from the courts, the courts have limited control over Probation budgeting decisions.

The lack of a local long-term juvenile detention facility in the area imposes a hardship on the Department and the community.

The DPO responsible for supervising adults has an extremely heavy caseload. Providing an additional probation officer would allow for more thorough supervision of the adult caseload.

Recommendations

Remodel the Probation Department office to provide additional security for personnel. At minimum, there should be an entrance lobby with restricted access to the secretarial and office areas.

Include the Probation Department budget in the Court budget to allow the Court to have control over budgeting decisions.

Expand the Probation Department to allow thorough supervision of all probationers.

Provide a local long-term facility for detaining juveniles.

Response Required

The Amador County Grand Jury requests the Probation Department and Board of Supervisors to respond within 90 days as required by Penal Code Section 933(c).
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