The county’s adult correctional facilities are hampered by overcrowding and a lack of technology but the new jail currently under construction should correct many of the existing problems, according to the civil grand jury.
The jury looked at management of all the county’s adult and juvenile detention facilities and concluded that neither effectively collect data to track program success and recidivism. Aside from the recommendation to improve its performance documentation, the county’s jails and juvenile hall received a fairly positive review by the grand jury report issued Tuesday.
The evaluation considered the Maguire Correctional Facility, the Women’s Correctional Facility, the men’s and women’s transitional facilities, the site of the new Maple Street Correctional Facility and the Youth Services Center.
The jurors wrote they were “impressed” by the adult facility staff but that operations and safety are challenged by historic overcrowding and lack of modern technology.
The jury recommends that the Sheriff’s Office document performance results of its programs and services and submit an annual report to the Board of Supervisors on the measures. The jury similarly recommended documenting performance in juvenile programs and services with an annual report, too.
Sheriff Greg Munks said he was pleased with the grand jury report and agreed that there isn’t currently adequate reporting on the effectiveness of the programming but that changes are underway. The Sheriff’s Office just flipped the switch on a new management system that will help collect data and Munks said another decision may help — a decision of how to actually define recidivism.
“It sounds like an easy task but you’d be amazed how hard it is to get a definition of what it means to repeat,” Munks said.
Munks, along with the District Attorney’s Office and Probation Department, narrowed one down which will be up for public comment and consideration at the next Community Corrections Partnership meeting. CCP is a multi-department public safety group established to implement state prisoner realignment locally. The definition is any new charge filed by the District Attorney’s Office within three years of an offender’s release, not counting technical violations like a dirty test or minor incidents like a drunk in public.
The jury report also concluded that the addition of new county jail inmates due to state prisoner realignment in 2009 has made management “more complex” and required a reassessment of inmate programs because long-term populations’ needs are different and add to an already overcrowded situation, according to the jury.
Maguire, the men’s jail near downtown Redwood City, averages 878 inmates although it is rated for 688 beds and has minimal computerization, no security cameras in inmate pods and single unarmed officers in pods with up to 64 low-risk inmates.
The women’s jail averages 124 inmates in a facility rated for 84 and overcrowding keeps it from providing the same level of service and programs as Maguire does for the men. The 1980 building is old, in need of repair, provides inadequate baby changing and restroom options in the visiting area and forces multiple education and rehabilitation groups to overlap space in the common eating area.
The 576-bed Maple Correctional Facility opening in Redwood City next year will include adequate space for family visits and child contact, a garden, a roof-top recreation area and a dog run for the inmate dog training program. Pods will have security cameras and some manual paperwork will be computerized.
Once the new facility opens to male and female inmates, the women’s jail will be closed and Maguire maintained.
The state recently awarded San Mateo County $24 million to upgrade Maguire including the creation of a critical treatment center for severely mentally ill inmates, converting an 80-bed pod into a mental health wellness pod, building a new recreation yard for realigned inmates with longer sentences and creating a retail vocation store to train re-entry and work furlough inmates.
Grand jury reports carry no legal weight but recipients are required to respond in writing within 90 days.
The complete grand jury report is available at www.sanmateocourt.org/grandjury
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102