Saturday, August 9, 2014
Siskiyou County supervisors respond to Grand Jury report
August 8, 2014
The Siskiyou Daily News
By David Smith
The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors approved its responses to the Grand Jury Tuesday, touching on topics from the location of the county probation department to the construction of a new jail.
The topic of probation came up in the Grand Jury’s discussion of public safety realignment, which stems from a state bill that has placed more convicted criminals under the jurisdiction of California counties.
The Grand Jury’s report found that the probation department has limited space, especially against projections of increased Post Release Community Supervision offenders in the future. It also states that the probation department’s Day Reporting Center, where numerous rehabilitation programs are held, should be larger.
Ultimately, the Grand Jury recommends that the county combine the probation department into one location, possibly at an often-unused wing of the Juvenile Hall. The report states that such a move could reduce the costs of paying for the current probation building, which is in need of extensive upgrades and repair.
The board of supervisors’ response is in agreement with the Grand Jury’s finding, but not its recommendation.
Referring to the suggestion of moving probation to the Juvenile Hall, the board’s response states, “This recommendation is problematic for several reasons.
“First, it is highly unlikely that adequate space is available and a space study would be required prior to moving forward. More concerning and not acceptable is placing adult offenders in close proximity or under the same roof as juvenile offenders which could have disastrous consequences.”
The board concludes that counties were not well equipped to implement the realignment process, and that Siskiyou County will continue to lobby for funding to improve its capital infrastructure.
The Grand Jury also described the county’s need for a new jail, calling the effort to build a new one “imperative.”
The board concurs with the finding, and its response states that the supervisors will continue to work with the Sheriff’s office in the effort to build a new jail on Foothill Drive in Yreka.
Thus far, the county has purchased the property where the jail would be built, and has retained an architectural firm to carry it through the design process. The board’s response shows doubt about the process, however, citing large concerns about the funding streams that will carry the county through the construction of the jail and the means necessary to staff it.
Referencing the County of Santa Barbara’s recent Grand Jury findings that revenue streams for that county will prove fickle in the near future, the board states that Siskiyou’s lack of extra revenue streams and reserves could prove disastrous for a planned jail.
“Therefore, while the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors recognizes a need for a new jail facility and is working closely with the Sheriff’s Office to fulfill that need, the fact remains financial resources are not yet available to meet this need and any future long or short term revenue growth does not indicate that fiscal picture will significantly improve,” the board’s response states.
On other matters the board concurs with the findings and recommendations of the Grand Jury, including the need for a dedicated sexual assault victim interview room and the need for additional funding for the county’s Sexual Assault Response Team. The Grand Jury also found that the county’s Fish and Game Commission lacked a full understanding of commission codes and procedures, and that funds had been improperly allocated in accordance with a 1992 revised ordinance detailing commission duties. The board concurs, and states that it will work to ensure that such issues are rectified.