Grand jury criticizes slow Truckee jail substation improvement in annual report |

Grand jury criticizes slow Truckee jail substation improvement in annual report

The 1998-99 Nevada County civil grand jury criticized the pace of improvements for the Sheriff’s Truckee substation, which it said was marked by a lack of planning and “dismal display of bureaucratic paper shuffling.”

In its annual report released today, the grand jury added that “it finds this totally unacceptable.”

In September 1997, a state Board of Corrections representative recommended the Sheriff’s Department make several changes at the substation, the grand jury said. Some changes have not been made, including the addition of video monitors in areas where female inmates are supervised, the grand jury reported.

In 1997, former jailer Bobby Alvin Rutledge Jr. committed a series of sexual misconduct crimes involving female prisoners. He was sentenced in April to seven years and eight months in state prison for the offenses, which included illegal strip searches.

The grand jury also cited reports of unsafe and “deplorable” working conditions at the substation. In one project, wiring and exposed flooring were not property completed, according to the report.

The failure of the Sheriff’s and General Services departments to coordinate their efforts with a written work plan likely caused the delay in improvements, the grand jury determined.

The grand jury also found that some improvements were broken into smaller projects to avoid formal bidding and the need for the Board of Supervisors’ approval, a strategy discussed at a supervisors meeting in November 1998, the grand jury said. Ultimately, this caused confusion and delays, the grand jury concluded.

The grand jury suggests new measures to improve planning for such maintenance and remodeling projects, including development of a work plan document.

Dennis Cassella, director of General Services, declined to comment on the report, saying he had not seen it.

Sheriff Keith Royal said improvements designed to address the grand jury concerns and the Board of Corrections’ recommendations are nearly completed. New video equipment to monitor the Truckee jail will be operational any day now, Royal said, adding the department is concerned about inmate safety.

There is already a new audio monitoring system in place that allows staff to monitor inmate activity, Royal said.

“In light of all that has transpired (at the substation), we are pleased that we are near completion on this,” Royal said.

However, Royal acknowledged frustration among his staff and General Services over delays in building and construction projects.

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