Issues at the Plumas County Jail dominated the agenda at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting in Quincy.
The supervisors unanimously approved a pair of requests from the sheriff and heard about a creative partnership with the Alliance for Workforce Development to help fund training for a new corrections officer at the jail.
Following is a roundup of the discussion and action taken during the Tuesday, July 17, meeting.
Additional corrections officer
The supervisors approved a request by Sheriff Greg Hagwood to increase the jail staff by adding one full-time corrections officer.
The jail is currently allowed to house only 37 inmates because it doesn’t have enough corrections officers to meet the requirements of a 20-year-old federal consent decree.
Hagwood said the additional corrections officer would be a step toward getting the decree lifted. If the decree is lifted, the jail — which is full — could hold as many as 67 inmates.
Money to pay for the additional officer would come from the county probation office allocation of state Senate Bill 678 funds.
“Basically, we are adding a corrections officer at no expense to the county’s general fund,” Hagwood said.
The sheriff said the jail — which has five unfilled positions in addition to the newly approved position — would likely need to add at least two or three more officers in order to get the decree lifted.
The state Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) is the entity authorized to tell the county when it has enough jailers on staff to lift the decree.
However, the CSA has not provided the county with a target number of staff that would be needed to lift the decree.
Supervisor Jon Kennedy, who has been outspoken about his frustration with the CSA, didn’t mince words about the agency’s hesitance to give the county a “magic number.”
“It’s pathetic,” Kennedy said. “I really want to get an answer from the CSA.”
Hagwood agreed, to a point.
“It’s very frustrating,” the sheriff said. “But I think we are taking the correct approach in taking very specific, measured steps.
“Eventually we will arrive at a point where we can say to (the CSA): This is what we have done. These are the individuals we have added to these shifts.
“They (CSA) won’t give you an exact number. But I think they will get to a point where they will say: Yes, you have done well and we will go ahead with the attorneys and say you have satisfied our (staffing) concerns.”
According to Assistant Sheriff Dean Canalia, the jail currently operates with three officers on the day shift, two on swing shift and two on the overnight shift.
He said that adding one officer per shift is probably the minimum the CSA would accept.
Hagwood said some of the current staff includes part-time officers. He said the part-time staff would be needed until he can fill the five vacant positions.
Hagwood said the sheriff’s office has joined forces with the Alliance for Workforce Development to pay the costs of training new correctional officers.
Alliance for Workforce Development is using a portion of its state funding to pay half of the salaries of the five newest officers — up to $7,000 per officer — while they are in training.
“It was a tremendous effort by Jan Prichard (at Alliance for Workforce Development) and Assistant Sheriff Dean Canalia that made this possible,” Hagwood said.
When Supervisor Robert Meacher asked how Prichard and Canalia got together to make it happen, Prichard said it was simply a matter of paying attention to the county’s needs.
“We watch everything that’s going on as far as where there are companies looking for new employees,” Prichard said. “Where we see perhaps there is a place where we could offer our training dollars, we will approach that business or entity.
“We actually have some, at the moment, all over the county. We’ve got Chester, Greenville, Quincy and Portola. So we are covering the county.”
Housing Sierra County inmates
The supervisors approved Hagwood’s request to sign an agreement for a booking and jail services contract with the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office.
The agreement would allow the county jail to house some of Sierra County’s inmates when it has room.
Hagwood told the supervisors that agreement with Sierra County was part of a long-term strategic plan that could ultimately lead to a new jail for Plumas County.
He said that Plumas’ jail would be considered a regional facility, “which would present Plumas County very favorably when we make an application to secure some construction funding (for a new jail).”
Hagwood said that when the consent decree is lifted, allowing the county jail to house 67 inmates, the jail could make a profit from the $80 it would receive daily per inmate.
Hagwood said Plumas County would not be responsible for the Sierra County inmates’ medical expenses.
“Right now with the consent decree and our population cap, we are not going to start housing a bunch of inmates from Sierra County,” Hagwood said. “But having this agreement in place will allow us, I think, to put a very favorable and interesting application forward in the future — when we are out from under that consent decree.”
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