The first and most important issue is that current staffing is inadequate to effectively run the Monterey County Jail. Constant absenteeism, Worker’s Compensation Claims and lack of available trained staff are all symptoms of this problem. Band-aid measures to fix these problems have been ineffective. The Custody Operations Bureau of the Sheriff’s Office has seen its fourth Chief Deputy in the last 3 years. Three of past Chief Deputies have been part time, retired law enforcement personnel, hired from out of the county. These part time employees are not from the Sheriff’s Office, they not familiar with the issues facing Monterey County and they do not have anything invested in the success of Monterey County. This lack of vested interest in the system leads to a system wide weakness in the staffing of the jail.
As Sheriff, I recognize and am heavily invested in the successful implementation and management of staffing in our jail. To ensure this success I will better leverage the current staff consisting of individuals with decades of knowledge pertaining to the issues of Monterey County law enforcement, jail and institutional knowledge of the Sheriff’s Office procedures. These individuals are the ones that can make a difference, leadership that knows the current working personnel, as well as leadership that knows and understands the history of complex labor agreements that have developed over decades of Monterey County Jail Operations. The current administration’s use of outside personnel for a “fresh perspective” has not been successful.
The second issue is the current state of the jail. There is no arguing that the current jail is outdated. We will have to make tough decisions regarding the overcrowding problem. The Jail is the subject of civil litigation brought forward by groups concerned about the medical and other treatment of inmates, as well as conditions of the jail overall. The jail expansion is moving forward, but slowly.
As Sheriff, I would first ask for independent audits from the State of California CSA (Correction Standards Authority) and STC (Standards and Training for Corrections) to get a full understanding of the real time issues facing the jail. My next step would be sit down with the DSA (Deputy Sheriff’s Association) and request valuable input from those who actually have to work in the facility under the current conditions. I would seek their advice on issues with and how to fix the jail problems. I know that the institutional knowledge from the DSA is great and be it that they work in the jail; they would possess first hand knowledge and even solutions to problems facing the deputies, and the inmates. Lastly, I would meet with the groups who are litigating the conditions of the jail to understand their concerns and how we can work to find a solution that is not only good for the jail, but good for the citizens of Monterey County. I would analyze this new information and combine it with the existing jail expansion program to see how we can maximize efficiency while also curtailing unnecessary expenses. The bottom line is that the jail needs help now. By soliciting advice and information from all stakeholders, we can create new and innovative ways of facilitating the much needed repairs and changes to the jail
The third problem I want to address is the failure to rehabilitate those already incarcerated in our jail. Our current recidivism rate is 74%. I would strive to provide quality evaluation of inmates to assess anti-social behavior and provide effective mental health, drug rehabilitation, educational and employment training programs to reduce this rate.
As your next Sheriff, I will seek innovative solutions. These solutions could include alternative sentencing options for first time and/or non-violent offenders that would allow them to work and contribute to the community, but still be held accountable for their crimes.