Nevada County Grand Jury finds good conditions at detention facilities
Nevada County’s Grand Jury, a volunteer investigative body charged with inquiring into and reviewing the conduct of county government and special districts, has released its annual audit of the public prisons within the county.
This year’s grand jury in general found the public prisons, which include the Carl F. Bryan II Regional Juvenile Hall and Washington Ridge Conservation Camp, to be well-managed and in good condition.
Fund use too restrictive
One issue that was addressed previously and that does not appear to have been resolved involves the Inmate Welfare Fund at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility. Last year, the grand jury had concerns about the fund’s management and lack of financial audits, as well as the Sheriff’s Office having an overly conservative approach to using the funds.
According to the report, the account has a balance of more than $440,400 at the end of the last fiscal year, with less than $85,000 in approved expenses. It also noted the fund is used to establish and maintain a store where inmates can buy candy, tobacco, writing supplies and toiletries, but they are charged a 25 percent commission.
The grand jury did find a positive use of the funds in education programs that allow inmates to obtain a GED, high school diploma or college credits with free classes, but noted that in general the expenditures appeared to be restrictive.
“The substantial funds in the Inmate Welfare Fund account provide for the opportunity to introduce new programs or reduce the commission charged for purchases,” the report stated.
The grand jury recommended the Sheriff’s Office revisit its policies regarding the Inmate Welfare Fund to consider re-establishing an oversight committee, establishing periodic audits, and reviewing revenue and expenditure policies. Last year, the Sheriff’s Office refuted a recommendation to draft new regulations for the administration of the fund, writing in its response that none were needed.
Use of Juvenile Hall still in question
The 2015-2016 grand jury issued a report noting the decrease in juvenile detention and recommending the county look at alternate uses of the facility. This year’s grand jury noted an ad hoc committee looked into whether the facility should be closed, repurposed in its function, or share operations with other county holding facilities. A presentation was made to the county Board of Supervisors, but no decision has been made. The report recommended the supervisors expedite a decision.
The grand jury found a few issues with the Juvenile Hall facility, including a need to improve security with additional, better surveillance equipment.
Other recommendations issued in the report include increasing the priority for correctional officer staffing, and better security at the courthouse holding facility.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at email@example.com.
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