The BoS and Sheriff’s Ticking Time Bomb

The Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Laurie Smith knowingly set the clock on a ticking time bomb when they approved the sheriff’s takeover plan of the jails. Yes, knowingly. They, with full intent and knowledge, chose to ignore the stated risks brought forth by a VERY brief review, and then approved the sheriff’s doubling down on those bad ideas year after year.

I’ve known there was a report out there reviewing Laurie Smith’s consolidation plan of the jails into the sheriff’s office. I had it in my hands at one point and then was unable to find it again. That changed last night.

The analysis by Harry M. Rose Associates, linked at the end of this article, is stunningly incomplete considering it is being used to make a decision on drastic structural changes within the DoC. The report makes clear, the Board of Supervisors gave them only NINE DAYS to complete a feasibility study, and the reviewers were given virtually no data on the positions that work from consolidated positions would move to. Time and time again, the report states they were unable to give an accurate, full analysis within the allotted time and due to lack of information provided.

Given the length of time the conversation took regarding this move, it would appear to have the potential to have been an intentional attempt to undermine the value of the report. Despite this, from professional standards to classification to training, to facility administration and beyond, deficits are noted already in existence and concerns are stated in the ability to further stretch resources to the degree intended.

It’s clearly stated that the plan risks going back to a time that most would have rather avoided revisiting:

The proposed restructuring of the Professional Compliance and Audit Unit eliminates a Correctional Sergeant and a Correctional Officer who make up this unit. According to the Department of Correction, the unit is responsible for managing and maintaining the Department’s policy manual, conducting internal inspections and audits related to custody operations, and participating and responding to external inspections and audits by other governmental agencies.

As detention facilities, the County’s jails are subject to specific standard established by State law and regulation, in particular Title 15 of the california Administrative Code, which establishes operating standards for local detention facilities, and title 24 of the Code, otherwise known as the Building Standards Code, which establishes standard for the physical plant of jail facilities. Portions of the Penal Code, the Health and Safety Code and the Government Code also regulate aspects of jail operations.

Furthermore, the jails are also subject to operational mandates resulting from court decisions and legal settlements, or have adopted specific operational standard in order to reduce potential liability. As the Board may be aware, the County’s jails for most of the 1980s operated under close State court supervision, as a result of litigation initiated on behalf of inmates, and the County over the years has paid out significant sums of money in settlements related to inmate injuries and deaths.

This is an example of the willful disregard that put the lives and safety of inmates and deputies at risk. The Board and the Sheriff have sat in front of the public now for months, empathetic and determined to implement “reform” to address the horrific conditions at the jails. They have distanced the history of their actions, and the actions of those before them, in the hopes that the public would never realize they made a decision to put us right back at square one — paying out significant sums due to death and injuries because of the state of affairs.

They knew better then, they know better now. But rather than admit their short-sighted decisions and apologize for them they have given us the theatrics of a Blue Ribbon Commission whose work product value was all but dismissed unilaterally with comments Cindy Chavez made on the last day. Regardless of evidence and assessment, the Board would only consider recommendations they chose to consider.

Sound familiar? Dave Cortese, Cindy Chavez, and the rest of the Board of Supervisors have shown us the decision to ignore the recommendations by the analysis was no mistake. It was an intentional willful act, just as creating the BRC and dismissing their results clearly was.

Rather than recognizing these issues and their participation in their creation, or shall we re-creation, the sheriff is still playing politics — manipulating commission members, attempting to sway a retired judge chairing the commission, and finally today when the DSA called for an investigation into those behaviors, accusing others of slinging mud and not contributing to reform. We wouldn’t need reform if it wasn’t for Laurie Smith, Cindy Chavez, and Dave Cortese. I think after you read the report, you’ll find that the analysis they clearly chose to ignore proves their personal input into the state of the jails today.

What they have created can only get worse if nearly everything they did to consolidate is reversed. And as the sheriff pointed out, it takes years to turn an organization this size around, even if you destroyed it intentionally.

Read the Harry M. Rose Assoc. report here: Analysis and review of sheriff DOC plan

 After reading the above report, please sign the petition demanding the county follow the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendation to remove the sheriff as the administrator to the Dept of Corrections contract.

Thank you!


2 thoughts on “The BoS and Sheriff’s Ticking Time Bomb

  1. Pingback: Let’s Get a Management Review | Casey Thomas' World

  2. Pingback: Needs Assessments Documented Decline of Santa Clara Jails | Casey Thomas' World

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