Grand Jury Report Looks At Jail Facilities and Impact of AB 109

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The Yolo County Grand Jury completed its investigation of Monroe Detention and Leinberger Memorial Centers and concluded “that the officers and staff are adjusting well to political changes as they prepare for upcoming physical changes.”

The grand jury determined that “with three years of experience under AB 109, officers are more familiar with the needs and challenges of working with more criminally sophisticated inmates.”

Voter approval of Proposition 47 last November had led to a decreasing inmate population. They note that “command staff has been able to use the freed space to give” more inmates access to programs which can help with recidivism rates. However, “even with the added experience and population adjustments, officers are still operating with fewer than ideal staffing numbers.”

The county received a grant of approximately $36 million for the purpose of renovating the aging centers. “Officers are optimistic that the upgrades will not only improve inmate living and staff working conditions, but also allow for more programs to help keep inmates engaged in their own betterment.”

The grand jury found that there is “a need for this program space and recommends that all of the designated program areas planned for in the upcoming renovation remain as such.”

The grand jury also recommends that the Board of Supervisors tour the facilities to view the areas to be renovated, and observe the workload of the staff.

“Staff and inmates meet with outside agencies and organizations to help inmates successfully transition back into the community.” The grand jury “determined that adding a system to effectively track the effectiveness of this and other in-house programs will be helpful to staff and inmates, and recommend that such a plan be developed and implemented.”

This is directly from the report:

Effects of Assembly Bill 109 and Proposition 47

Going into effect in October 2011, AB109 attempts to reduce over-crowding and recidivism rates in state prisons by transferring inmates to county detention facilities. These inmates can be parole violators sent to the county of their last residence, violators of mandatory supervision, or inmates convicted of non-violent, non-sexual or non-serious offenses. The jail facilities were designed to house un-sentenced inmates preparing for court dates and inmates sentenced up to one year for minor crimes. The officers and staff must now work with inmates serving sentences up to several years, who are more criminally sophisticated than traditional county inmates. These inmates tend to have a better understanding of prison politics and are more demanding resulting in an increase in acts of non-compliance. In response to these challenges, officers and staff have used training and experience to improve the inmate classification process helping to enhance inmate and officer safety. The kitchen has adjusted to a larger variety in dietary needs including kosher, vegetarian, and halal, to name a few. Using programs, such as GED classes and drug education, as well as work details, an effort is made to keep the inmates engaged and invested in their own betterment. As of February 2015, there were 105 AB109 Yolo County inmates, of which, 34 were out on electronic monitoring.

In November 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47 which reduced many non-violent, non-serious, and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It also allowed inmates serving sentences based on a conviction of one of these reclassified crimes to be re-sentenced. As a result, some inmates who had felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors were released for time served. While the effects of Prop 47 on the community have raised debate and concern, the most prominent effect on the jail has been more open beds. The resulting space allowed the command staff to adjust the inmate population. Prior to the implementation of Prop 47, Leinberger, a dormitory setting with several beds per room, was too full to house female inmates. After Prop 47 went into effect, space was cleared to allow female inmates into Leinberger, giving them more access to programs. An additional outcome of Prop 47 opened up space at both facilities allowing Monroe to detain persons with misdemeanor bench warrants. Before, a person who was issued a bench warrant for skipping a court date might only be cited and released, creating a cycle in which a case could be delayed for years. Now, that same person can be held until their court date, helping to adjudicate cases in a timely manner.

Discharge Planning

Before release, inmates have the option to go through a discharge planning process. When AB 109 went into effect, the command staff recognized a need to help inmates reintegrate back into the community to try to decrease the likelihood of a return to criminal activities. Needs vary depending on the inmate, and include, but are not limited to, housing, continuing education, vocational training, and drug education. Interns from the Public Defender’s office perform an informal assessment of inmates who are nearing their release dates to determine their potential needs. Recently, the county received a grant to fund a Treatment Coordinator who focuses on inmates to be released in the next six months to one year. The Treatment Coordinator assesses what can be done to help inmates prepare themselves before their release dates, such as enrolling them in GED classes. One of the bigger problems, however, is convincing an inmate to admit when they need help and ask for it.

Originally, command staff held a monthly meeting to discuss inmates who were to be released in the next 90 days. As the release program has been refined, staff now meets based on need. Along with their own in-house medical and mental health staff, command staff invites representatives from departments such as, Sheriff’s office, Probation, Public Defender’s office, State Parole, Veterans Affairs, and Employment and Social Services. Representatives from community and church groups are also invited as well as organizations like Cache Creek Lodge, 4th and Hope, and Delancey Street to help the inmates transition. Inmates can also submit an interest card to include a group that they think will be beneficial to their success in the community. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that some inmates have benefited from this planning, there is no system in place to track its effectiveness.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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6 thoughts on “Grand Jury Report Looks At Jail Facilities and Impact of AB 109”

  1. Tia Will

    Although anecdotal evidence suggests that some inmates have benefitted from this planning, there is no system in place to track its effectiveness.”

    This seems to be a huge omission from any kind of project. Without a means of monitoring the effect of any new proposal, how can any comment be made about effectiveness, let alone cost effectiveness of such a program. The best way to counter arguments that propositions aimed at early release of  non violent, non serious offenders, and rehabilitative services, would be actual data showing that these programs are effective in reintegration into the community as law abiding citizens. Anecdotes are not helpful in convincing anyone who is skeptical. Actual data is needed for two reasons. First to assess the efficacy and revise any non effective policies. The second is to bring on board skeptics by demonstrating that programs have overall benefit.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      The Grand Jury is clearly not capable of doing more than they did here. I would have liked to have seen them check out the conditions there, I have heard constant complaints from families of the inmates regarding health care and food needs.

  2. Davis Progressive

    the bigger problem as david alludes to above is that the grand jury didn’t look into the real problems in the jail – health care, safety, treatment by the deputies, etc.  why not?

  3. ryankelly

    Did they just walk through and take the information that was offered by the staff?   Did they even look into the jail’s release process that resulted in the negligent release of William Gardner after hours on a Friday night without effective notification to the victim, Leslie Pinkston, and which resulted in her murder by Gardner on the following Monday morning.  I agree that the real problems in the jail were not addressed in this report.

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