Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mendocino County Grand jury to MCSO: Arrest a Plumber - Fix the Jail!

Ukiah Daily Journal Staff
Updated: 06/17/2010 12:00:38 AM PDT

Plumbing problems abound at the county jail, according to a report released June 9 by the Mendocino County grand jury.

The report, "Arrest a Plumber - Fix the Jail!: A Report on the Mendocino County Jail and Courthouse Holding Cells," recommends the Sheriff's Office develop a plan to fix the plumbing and recommends using asset forfeiture money to renovate the jail.

The GJ found the jail "in dire need of maintenance and repair," according to the report.

Among the problems the GJ found were toilets with leaky bowls and continually running tank water; too much or too little water pressure in drinking fountains; some drinking fountains running continually; leaky plumbing on the jail's outside walls; and repairs made with self-manufactured parts, including a combination of various metals and plastics.

No maintenance personnel are assigned to the jail, and the GJ recommends that the county General Services Agency assign a full-time staffer to the jail.

The GJ recommends full staffing, but notes the jail is under a hiring freeze and that six vacant jobs are likely to remain empty because of budget cuts.

Jail staff include a captain/commander, two lieutenants, six sergeants (eight are allocated), two sheriff's service technicians (five were allocated), 41 line staff (46 are allocated). Seven employees are bilingual.

The daily staffing minimum includes eight line staff and one sergeant, and the jail could fall below that minimum "if anyone calls in sick," according to the report.

"Under-staffing results in long hours, and may result in errors due to fatigue," the report states.

The GJ notes there was a suicide and 184 reported safety issues involving inmates with mental health problems in 2009. No data is kept regarding attempted suicides.

The jail's capacity is 302 inmates; there were 257 inmates when the GJ visited in October. That included 35 women and 222 men.

The jail is divided to allow segregation of prisoners by gender and other classifications, including non-sentenced, sentenced, violent, protected custody and those with gang affiliations.

The prisoners must also be transported to the courthouse separately, according to classification.

One of the cells at the courthouse had a drinking fountain with high water pressure, which spewed water onto the floor when used, causing a safety hazard, the GJ reported.

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