San Joaquin County Jail Scheduled for 1st Ever Audit after Grand Jury Report, Sex Abuse of Incarcerated People

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By The Vanguard

STOCKTON, CA – The San Joaquin County Jail houses about 1,300 people, but has never undergone a single audit, a grand jury noted this year—but now, for the first time, “the jail will be audited under the Prison Rape Elimination Act this October,” according to Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Goucher in a story in the Stockton Record.

The law has required U.S. jails to open their doors to auditors tasked with ensuring jail officials do enough to prevent sexual abuse against incarcerated people, wrote the Record.

The Valley newspaper said, “There were more than 2,600 confirmed cases across the U.S. of an incarcerated person being sexually abused by another incarcerated person between 2016 and 2018 alone, according to a Department of Justice report this year,” adding, “There were more than 2,200 confirmed cases of sexual misconduct against an incarcerated person by jail or prison staff. Abuse may also be underreported.”

The Dept. of Justice found, “Jail staff who abused people were convicted, pleaded guilty, sentenced, or fined in only 20 percent of cases (and) that’s even after the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) — signed by former President George W. Bush in 2003 — has already been in effect for over two decades,” the Stockton Record said.

“(Prison rape) has been at times dismissed by some as an inevitable—or even deserved—consequence of criminality… incidents of sexual abuse against incarcerated persons have not been taken as seriously as sexual abuse outside prison walls,” the DOJ stated in a summary of the act.

The Record cautioned, “Like every jail and prison across the country, the San Joaquin County Jail should have been audited to ensure it meets national standards for preventing sexual assault against incarcerated people…it’s the responsibility of jail officials — in this case, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office — to arrange the inspection once every three years and demonstrate that they follow the rules.”

That would have meant the San Joaquin Valley Jail would have had “at least” three audits by 2022, but instead, it has had none, the grand jury said in April.

“And there’s strong evidence suggesting people jailed in San Joaquin County may have faced abuse during that time…In 2018, former sheriff’s deputy Danny Swanson pleaded guilty to assault and sexual battery after an incarcerated woman reported that he put her hands on his genitals while he was removing her handcuffs,” wrote the Record, adding, “Swanson also pulled off the road while transporting the woman in a jail van and kissed her while she was handcuffed,” she said.

The Stockton Record reported, “Over the next three years, two corrections officers were charged with sexually assaulting four more people…” (but) the jail was never audited because “the previous administration had not established an audit procedure,” Deputy Goucher, the sheriff’s spokesman, said.

The Record also wrote, “In 2022, there were 10 sexual misconduct claims by incarcerated people against others in jail. One was substantiated, according to Goucher…(and) There was one claim of sexual harassment by staff, but it was unsubstantiated.”

The current county sheriff is Patric Withrow, who was sworn in in January 2019. Former Sheriff Steven Moore ran the jail from 2007 through 2018.

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