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Report calls for more guards at local jails; close honor farm

POSTED June 10, 2011 8:24 p.m.

A civil grand jury report evaluating the custodial facilities in Stanislaus County recommended the honor farm be closed down and the staffing levels at all the facilities be increased.

The report looked at the men’s downtown county jail, the public safety center, the honor farm, juvenile hall, as well as the Turlock, Modesto, Ceres and Oakdale police departments.

The civil grand jury concluded that the staffing levels and the men’s jail and the public safety center were a concern to public safety.

“Staffing levels are dangerously low due to budgetary cuts,” the report reads. “The national ratio is one custodial officer for every 4.47 inmates while California’s ration is one custodial officer for every 6.46 inmates. Stanislaus County officials have a ratio of one custodial officer for every 9.5 inmates.”

The chance of any additional staffing in the near future is unlikely because of unprecedented budget cuts the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department has had to absorb.

In the report the civil grand jury makes the recommendation that the county honor farm be closed. The honor farm lost half of the facility in a fire. The report suggests the remaining inmates and custodial staff be transferred to the public safety center and use the insurance settlement to pay for expansions of the public safety center.

Sheriff Adam Christianson has previously stated he would like to use the honor farm as an immigration detention center, which would bring in federal dollars and could allow for the department to rehire previously laid-off guards.

The report praised the juvenile hall facility, which was re-modeled in 2000, with additional housing tiers.

“The facility is well maintained with educational, spiritual and anti-recidivism objectives in order,” the report states.

The civil grand jury also conducted an evaluation of the Turlock Police Department’s temporary detention facility and found it to be well maintained and compliant with state regulations. The report did recommend the department stock personal toiletries and towels and update their copy of the Physician Desk Reference. The department’s copy is from 1996.

The civil grand jury made surprise inspections of the facilities in February of this year.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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