May 21, 2018 – The 2017/2018 Nevada County Grand Jury (Jury) has conducted an inspection of the detention facilities in the County of Nevada (County) to “inquire into the conditions and management of the public prisons within the county” as required by Penal Code Section 919(b). The Jury toured and inspected the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility (Wayne Brown), the Carl F. Bryan II Juvenile Hall (Juvenile Hall), the Washington Ridge Conservation Camp (Washington Ridge), and two holding facilities: the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office’s Truckee Sub-Station (Truckee Jail) and the Nevada County Superior Court Holding Facility in Nevada City (Nevada City Holding Facility).
There are three problems with the detention facilities that the Jury believes should be addressed.
California law provides that the sheriff in each county may establish an Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF) to pay for services to inmates. The balance in the IWF at Wayne Brown at the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year was approximately $400,000. The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) has issued regulations concerning the administration of the Wayne Brown IWF but the regulations are not being followed. While the uses of the IWF are broadly discretionary and no misuses of such funds are apparent, compliance with written policies is important when large amounts of money are being collected and expended. The NCSO should either follow the policies it has promulgated or promulgate new policies that reflect how the IWF is being administered.
The Jury also was concerned by the air quality it experienced in the Nevada City Holding Facility. The Jury became more concerned when it could find no record of the air quality having been tested. The multitude of unhealthy agents that could be present in the ill-ventilated basement of an old building requires at a minimum that testing be done.
Finally, the 2015-2016 Grand Jury reported on the excessive costs associated with maintaining Juvenile Hall when the number of juvenile detainees has radically decreased. That report estimated an excessive cost in the neighborhood of $2,000,000/year. Juvenile Hall continues in operation notwithstanding that there are now even fewer detainees than there were two years ago. While the programs offered at Juvenile Hall are exemplary, the cost is prohibitive. The Board of Supervisors must investigate alternatives to this over-expenditure of scarce County funds.
Other than those issues, in general, the Jury found the public prisons in the County to be well managed and in good condition except for problems related to the age of the facilities at the Nevada City Holding Facility and at the Truckee Jail. The Jury has issued a separate report on conditions related to the transport of prisoners to and from the Truckee Branch of the Nevada County Superior Court.
Download the full report here.