Wednesday, July 2, 2014

(Imperial County) Jail considering the future of medical care

July 2, 2014
Imperial Valley Press
By Chelcey Adami

While the Imperial County jail’s medical facilities are adequate for the time being, it will eventually need more resources as more inmates come in and stay longer due to realignment, the Imperial County Civil Grand Jury noted, and hope is on the horizon in the form of a new jail facility projected to be completed by the end of 2016. 
Members of the Civil Grand Jury toured the jail and inspected it using a checklist recommended by previous juries as well as any additional information requested by jury members. 
The jail staff discussed the impacts of realignment with the jury members and explained the jail received more than 100 Assembly Bill 109 offenders that would have gone to prison previous to AB 109, also known as realignment. AB 109 was passed in October 2011 to shift lower-level and other low-risk offenders to local jails throughout the state.
The AB 109 offenders at the jail now have an average sentence of 3.25 years, and 69 of them have a scheduled release date this year. However, many of them are serving sentences longer than what the jail is used to with one serving a term of up to 16 years. 
While the jury found the medical care seems adequate for the time being, longer-term inmates now being housed at the jail will present serious and long-term medical issues the jail may not be prepared to handle. 
The jury recommends that the jail work with “county supervisors and administrators to seek the needed funding to ensure that medical care keeps up with the increase of long-term inmates,” according to the grand jury 2013-14 report. 
Before AB 109, the jail wasn’t practicing preventable care such as annual exams said Imperial County jail Correctional Chief Jamie Clayton, and the jail is adjusting to provide that. It’s projected that it will cost the jail an additional $4 million for the AB 109 inmates.
The Imperial County jail has been granted $33 million through AB 900 for a new facility that would entail a new medical unit. The conceptual design is on approval and a project management firm is in place. 
Clayton said the new facility, which would be located behind the two present facilities, is projected to be completed by the end of 2016 and will alleviate many projected strains on the jail’s health care. 
AB 900 began in 2007 primarily to assist with prison inmates’ health care costs but may be able to assist with jail medical costs, too. 
Other findings in the grand jury report included examining and repairing all doors, locks and other area of physical security; making it a training issue for staff to work with volunteers better; and openly recognize when staff members do a good job and take steps to ensure good staff is retained. 
Clayton said a security company is coming in the next couple of weeks to review the antiquated door-lock systems and the jail is also looking into streamlining the volunteer application process to ensure that everyone is trained promptly.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or

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