It Wasn’t Broken When We Gave It to Her

So NBC News finally asked the hard question — people are talking about removing the jails from the sheriff’s control and making them an independent entity again, should we?

Supervisor David Cortese, to his credit (and probably his detriment if the sheriff has any dirt to sling at him) said it was a good question and should be considered. Though it would have to go to the voters.

Now I don’t claim to understand this convoluted disaster of rules and regulations Santa Clara County has created for itself. For every 3 items they pass, they probably do nothing in support of 2 of them. These people drove over and through the complaints that re-combining the jails and the SO needed voter approval to move forward; then, in 2012, they put Measure A on the ballot. It passed. It asked:

To provide the Board of Supervisors with flexibility in operating the County jails to ensure continued cost-savings and improvement of efficiencies, shall the Board of Supervisors have the discretion to determine whether the Sheriff, Department of Correction, or any other department or agency, or any combination of them jointly operate the jails?

The analysis stated, in part:

Measure A is a Charter amendment that would amend Section 509.
The amendment would authorize the Board of Supervisors to assign
responsibility over any or all jail operations to the Sheriff, the
Department of Correction, or any other County department or agency.
The Board of Supervisors could also assign joint responsibility over any
jail operations to a combination of departments or agencies. The Board
of Supervisors could make these changes only by an ordinance
approved by a 4/5 vote of its members (i.e., at least four votes) to (1)
reduce the cost of operating the jails, (2) ensure the presence of
adequate law enforcement personnel, or (3) address changed

I would say that (2) and (3) apply here. Clearly the sheriff has failed to sustain adequate personnel to ensure the safety and adequate treatment of inmates.  Though, if we’re honest for entirely different reasons than outlined.  I guess no one ever considered anyone would do something so detrimental as fail to have a minimum staffing standard.  Without a doubt, circumstances have changed. We now have evidence even the most blindered person can’t refute or brush off — two dead people who shouldn’t have died, Mr. Michael Tyree and Mr. Walter Roches.

There is evidence the sheriff well knew the problems at hand, and willfully ignored them and those that brought the problems to her attention. She showed a consistent and deliberate indifference for her personnel, her inmates, and her visitors. She was warned, and refused to discuss with entities trying to bring change until they threatened a law suit. I’ll provide more information on this tomorrow. Tonight, suffice it to say, perhaps the Board of Supervisors should pressure the sheriff to either step down, or the Supervisors will begin to take action to remove the jails from her domain and stand against her in the next election to stem the ongoing degradation on the enforcement side of her office.