Tuesday, June 5, 2018
[Shasta County] Grand jury takes aim at jail bed capacity
A 13-page report issued by the Shasta County Grand Jury Monday explains in detail the "critical" need for more inmate beds at the Shasta County Jail.
But it doesn't appear it's going to be an easy or quick fix.
"The greatest challenge to jail funding is that Shasta County revenues have not kept pace with the rise in operational jail costs," the grand jury report says.
In its report titled "Shasta County Jail: Funding and Capacity, A Public Safety Crisis Deepens," the grand jury calls on the Shasta County Supervisors to determine how many additional jail beds are needed, both now and in the future.
It also recommends supervisors identify operational jail funding to match the jail capacity need, and to adopt a plan for both short-term and long-term needs, as well as funding sources, for the operational costs associated with any expansion.
In its summary, the grand jury report said the chronic shortage of jail beds was "significantly exacerbated" with the passage of Assembly Bill 109 in 2011, Proposition 47 in 2014 and Proposition 57 in 2016.
It also says the percentage of funds that Shasta County is contributing from the general fund to the jail is at a 10-year low. As of last year, the general fund contributed 56 percent of the jail's budget, in contrast to 79 percent in 2011.
It says this is partly due to AB 109 funds replacing historical funding sources for the jail.
According to the summary, county officials and administrators are unsure how current jail operations will be funded over the next several fiscal years.
In a May update to a jail facilities needs assessment, it says the need for inmate beds has risen over the last five years due to AB 109 legislation.
The report says the jail is now 135 beds below needed capacity.
"One result is that in order to accommodate incoming offenders, an average of 30 currently housed inmates per day need to be released early," the grand jury summary says.
Over the past 10 years, the grand jury report says, Shasta County budgets have increased by approximately 20 percent.
Over the same 10 years, it notes, jail personnel expenses, including overtime, have increased by 30 percent and jail services and supply expenses have risen by 50 percent.
The report says the grand jury did not investigate jail budgets to determine why these increases have been "significantly" above inflationary levels.
In its report, the grand jury is asking supervisors to agree on needed jail bed capacity now and in five, 10, 15 and 20 years by Sept. 30.
It also recommends these capacity needs should be reviewed and updated annually.
The jury also recommends supervisors adopt a 10-year funding plan by March 31 and to also by that date identify ongoing new revenue funding sources to meet current and projected needs.
June 4, 2018
Redding Record Searchlight
By Jim Schultz