Members of the Concurrent Grand Jury said in a final report they are concerned about correctional officers being understaffed at the County Jail.
There is only one officer for about 50 inmates, the report from the Grand Jury headed by DeAnna Anderson says.
The panel recommended that the intensive probation program be reinstated at Juvenile Court and that more probation officers be hired.
As did the Regular Grand Jury, the Concurrent Grand Jury called for the law to be changed that allows a car to be scrapped without the presentation of a title as long as the vehicle is at least 10 years old.
Here is the full report:
The Concurrent Grand Jury for the January-April, 2012 term presents the following report:
Our service as Grand Jurors has been an enlightening experience. We feel it is an honor to be given this opportunity to serve our community and the courts in this manner. The education we received in relation to the Criminal Justice System and our law enforcement will not soon be forgotten.
We have gained an insight into the work of our law enforcement officers that has left us with a renewed respect for them. Our appreciation for them and the dangerous work they do is heartfelt.
This Grand Jury is made up of employees of UPS, US Xpress, Inc., Chambliss Shelter, Card Monroe Corp., Invista, Ham. Co. Health Dept. and Sargent & Lundy, as well as a paralegal with the U. S. Attorney’s office , General Manager of The Sheraton Read House, our self-employed Jurors and last, but not least, our UTC student.
As part of our responsibilities we toured the Silverdale facilities, Juvenile Court and Detention Center and Hamilton County Jail. We have been given the task of reporting on the Hamilton County Jail and Juvenile Court and Detention Center.
With great respect, we submit the following observations and opinions on these facilities:
HAMILTON COUNTY JAIL
This Grand Jury found our tour of the County Jail to be very interesting. The staff was knowledgeable and very forthcoming with the daily obstacles they face in an understaffed and outdated building. For many, this can be an overwhelming experience, however, Captain Swope and his staff has a way of making it a bit easier to “take in”.
The leadership and staff of the County Jail should be commended for their ability to handle jail security while understanding that inmates do have rights.
We found the kitchen, under the leadership of Mr. Jim Hughes, very clean and organized. By using inmates as kitchen workers, making many foods from scratch and looking for the best food deals, inmates are served three meals a day at a cost of $2.69. Perhaps, by using inmate workers in the kitchen, some will gather skills they can take with them to find employment, thus, contributing to society rather than taking from it.
It has been stated in past reports and bears repeating that the Jail is largely understaffed. As of our tour (3/13/12), they were running 50 prisoners to 1 officer. How can this be acceptable when officers are tasked with monitoring inmates; transporting inmates to Mental Health facilities; and dealing with “unhappy” inmates, just to name a few. We feel this puts at risk the safety of our officers, as well as inmates. These officers work hard while being stretched very thin.
This Grand Jury feels that video visitation should be put into place. The arraignment system, already in place, has proved to be very beneficial. Having this system would help with understaffing and GREATLY reduce the problem contraband being brought into the facility presents.
This Grand Jury, as those before us, is concerned with the number of inmates that suffer from mental health illness. The eight hours a week psychiatric care provided to the facility is inadequate. More trained personnel must be put into place to deal with, and maintain the safety of the staff and other inmates.
JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER
Our tour of this facility left us feeling that the staff truly cares about the welfare of the juveniles that pass through their doors.
We felt the facility was clean and well run.
This Grand Jury felt that the kitchen was very clean and three nutritional meals a day were prepared for the juveniles.
Along with the other educational resources the Juvenile Center has, this Grand Jury feels that a small library housing books with positive values and stories of hope would be beneficial.
We would ask that serious consideration be given to reinstate the Intensive Probation Program. As we were told, this very successful program was cut due to funding. It seems to us, having a program that would give so much attention to these serious juvenile offenders would SAVE resources in the end.
We feel the caseload of the probation officers is high. We would like to see more probation officers hired to help lower the ratio. We feel the more attention given to them as juveniles might lessen the chance they will end up in Criminal Court as adults.
This Grand Jury was amazed at the number of cases we heard concerning stolen vehicles sold to scrap metal yards. A vehicle can be stolen, often times by criminals supporting a drug or alcohol problem, and sold for scrap. As long as it is TEN YEARS OLD, NO TITLE IS REQUIRED! Often times, the vehicle has already been crushed by the time it has been traced back to the business. We feel, in part that these scrap metal yards are as much a part of the problem as the thief who steals the car. This is NOT a victimless crime and the State Legislature needs to change the law. This Grand Jury thinks that a holding period should be put into place, therefore deterring this act from being committed.
We wonder if the misdemeanor cases that come through the Grand Jury are nothing more than a “stall tactic” used by some. The number of cases involving misdemeanor charges is large and seems to bog down the docket. We do not pretend to have an answer to this problem, but we trust that the State Legislature can address this growing problem and resolve it.
CASES HEARD BY THIS GRAND JURY
While serving this term, the Concurrent Grand Jury heard 612 cases.