Sunday, April 3, 2011

Yolo County releases partial grand jury report

Created: 04/02/2011 02:34:09 AM PDT

The Yolo County Grand Jury released part of its 2010-11 report on Friday, awarding high marks to the Yolo County Jail and Juvenile Hall and investigating four other county agencies.

n Jail staff followed proper procedures when confronted by inmate suicides in May and December 2010, the jury ruled.

Both inmates killed themselves through asphyxiation but showed no signs of suicidal tendencies before or during incarceration, according to the report.

Each death triggered a jail-wide lockdown. The location of each death was treated as a crime scene where only clinical responders and Sheriff's management were allowed on-scene. Inmates in the immediate area were tracked, the Sheriff and District Attorney were quickly notified and the County Coroner worked to identify the next of kin as soon as possible, according to the report.

All staff involved recorded their observations and all jail logs were turned in to the California Department of Justice. The department has yet to contact the jail, according to the report.

Officials still struggle with inmate overcrowding and early inmate releases but Yolo County Jail staff is "proactive in determining which inmates are to be released from custody," according to the report.

The report called the building exteriors "clean and well maintained" and commended efforts to reduce electricity costs through solar panels.

n Yolo County Juvenile Hall staff, programs and facilities are "exemplary," according to the report.

Some 97 percent of youths attend classes, including literacy classes and GED testing. One juvenile in the care of the facility was the first in the nation to earn a GED while in detention for immigration issues, according to the report.

Medical care is readily available, with an on-call physician available 24 hours a day. All medical, dental and health evaluations are conducted within 96 hours of incarceration, according to the report.

At the federal level, the facility is also earning a "positive national reputation" because it holds out-of-state juvenile offenders awaiting resolution on immigration issues, according to the report.

n The Woodland Police Department's towing policy is fair and officials have the "best interests of the community and public safety in mind," according to the report. The jury investigated the department after a citizen complaint. Dispatch staff are fair in their choice of towing companies, maintaining a rotating list of companies, according to the report.

n The Yolo County Housing Authority took last year's recommendations and improved resident safety at the Riverbend Senior Manor in West Sacramento, according to the report. Officials now provide training for the facility's emergency pull-cord system, respond to safety complaints with written responses and lock the gates at night.

n Allegations that Yolo County landscaping and maintenance crews were arriving late, clocking out early and lying on their timecards proved false, according to the report.

Employees in the county's Department of General Services are allowed modified schedules, including 10-hour days and four-day weeks. Combined with the fact that these employees often lack computers, meaning they miss email updates on policy, contributed to suspicions between employees, according to the report.

By the end of the investigation employees were all up-to-date on policy and morale had improved, according to the report.

The jury recommended, however, that the county should implement electronic timekeeping to avoid future conflicts and limit the potential for fraud.

The remainder of the reports will be released June 30. The county is currently looking for grand jurors to serve in 2011-12.

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