Nevada County Grand Jury again recommends county to close juvenile hall | TheUnion.com

Nevada County Grand Jury again recommends county to close juvenile hall

The Nevada County Grand Jury has again recommended the closure of Carl F. Bryant Juvenile Hall, citing the excessive cost of maintaining a seriously under-used facility.

The recommendation — which was previously made by the grand jury in 2016 — was part of its periodic inspection of Nevada County's detention facilities. The report, which was released Monday morning, also found issues with the holding facility at the Nevada County Courthouse and with the Inmate Welfare Fund maintained by the Sheriff's Office.

In general, the grand jury found the public jail facilities in the county to be well-managed and in good condition, except for problems related to the age of the facilities at the courthouse and at the Truckee jail. A separate report was issued earlier this year regarding transportation of prisoners to and from Truckee.

According to the new report, the Superior Court holding facility inside the Nevada City courthouse is clean and well-maintained, but has an air quality problem. The jury found no record that the county has measured the air quality or whether the ventilation system had been maintained. During the visit, two members of the grand jury reportedly were affected by the air quality. The grand jury recommended it be tested.

The grand jury noted despite its 2016 recommendation, Nevada County continues to operate the juvenile hall at a cost of approximately $2 million a year. According to the report, there are even fewer detainees being housed at the facility than there were two years ago, at a prohibitive cost.

At the time of the grand jury's inspection, there were only four detainees at the juvenile hall, all from Nevada County. According to the report, there have not been any detainees from out of county in several months, due to the recent completion of a new juvenile facility in Tuolumne County. The grand jury report suggests closing the facility and transferring local juvenile detainees to other counties. The report notes that the county is looking at other uses for the facility, such as a regional facility for prisoners with mental health issues.

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The grand jury's last finding of note involves the Inmate Welfare Fund, which brings in revenue to fund programs that benefit the education and welfare of inmates and to augment county expenses for meals, clothing, housing and medical services. According to the report, the fund at Wayne Brown currently stands at nearly $400,000.

The Nevada County Sheriff's Office has procedures in place for the administration of the Inmate Welfare Fund — but it does not follow its own procedures, the grand jury found. The fund is supposed to be overseen by a committee, which does not exist. Instead, decisions about purchases are reviewed up the chain of command. Staff duties are carried out, but not by designated staff. And there is no inventory maintained, even though the Sheriff's Office directives state there should be.

The grand jury did not find any suspicious financial activity, the report noted. But, it stated, "the lack of an inventory and the sporadic summary reports of financial activity provided to the Board of Supervisors make any analysis of IWF income and expenditures challenging."

The report recommended the Sheriff's Office either comply with its own regulations, or draft new regulations that describe procedures that actually are being followed.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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