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Grand Jury Report Releases Report On Jail Crowding

In a lengthy report released the day before election day, the Shasta County Grand Jury seems to find plenty of parties to share the blame for the current jail capacity crisis. The sheriff apparently did not give the board of supervisors an adequate assessment of how many additionally beds are needed, effectively leaving them guessing about how much funding to provide. Still, the report says the funds the county is providing to jail operations is at a 10 year low despite an enormous increase in costs for personnel, services and supplies. The crisis really began in the 90’s. At the beginning of that decade, jail capacity at the various facilities was 531. Crystal Creek Camp closed in 1992 and the Work Annex closed in 2003, making it 381. Capacity bottomed out in 2009 at 253 when a floor of the jail was closed. The floor reopened in 2012 with help from AB-109 money. However, because of the increase of inmates imposed by the state, the money was intended to provide for an increase in capacity beyond pre-Ab109 levels but that didn’t happen. A repeated theme has been the acceptance and subsequent refusal of many millions of dollars in state grants for jail construction that the county could not promise operational funds to maintain. The upshot is that a 135 bed shortage forces a daily release of 30 inmates who should be behind bars. The Grand Jury says the county should have 5, 10, 15 and 20 year plans with projected needs and funding sources, but nobody seems to be looking ahead even 2 or 3 years, according to the report. Click here to view the full report.