Commentary by Samuel Strait – March 27, 2023
Things could be worse for the Del Norte County’s Sheriff, as we have
recently learned the Fresno County sheriff is dealing with the fall out
of having a local resident of Fresno, California being arrested and
booked for the tenth time in the last thirty one days. Talk about a
frequent flyer. Unfortunately our local sheriff is dealing with
problems of his own, a County Jail in desperate need of a make over, and
a inmate population nearing maximum capacity for the current facility.
Much of this phenomena has to do with the lifting of the pandemic policy
mandate which severely limited the jail’s capacity. Recently, with
restrictions lifted, the facility’s capacity of 115 inmates is being
pressed to its limit at over 80% full.
Of course, as usual, much of the difficulty’s that the sheriff faces has
to do with policies coming out of the State’s liberal government and
governor. Soft on crime, early releases, and incarcerations pushed from
State institutions being shuttered, to cause much of the necessary
burden of incarceration left to local County jails. Such as it is,
Sheriff Scott’s main focus has been on major felony inmates, and those
commitments that are a safety concern for the community. We seem to be
extremely fortunate that we have a sheriff in office whose ultimate
concern is to our County.
Clearly, the County Board of Supervisors do not share that commitment as
they are continually loading up on the sheriff with new
responsibilities, new ordinances to enforce, and the failure to
understand the strict limitations with which the sheriff has to operate
his department. Short staffed in most areas, including corrections, has
left him scrambling to run his department effectively. Corrections,
currently operating at much less than full staff, is in the process of
adding nine new employees to fill some of the short fall. Due to the
difficulties surrounding public attitudes about policing in general, the
sheriff should be commended for taking the steps he did to increase his
Sheriff Scott has also begun re instating some of the programs that
lapsed during the pandemic, drug counseling and the like. While things
at the sheriff’s station will not change over night from the situation
handed to the sheriff when he took office, it appears progress has been
made. With the rehabilitation funding for the County’s jail secured to
the tune of $3 million, future upgrades to the facility will certainly
come with a brighter future going forward. Let’s hope Sheriff Scott can
continue to develop his plan for better service to this County as soon
as possible. The sheriff’s department has had a history of failed
expectations for many decades, with only a few bright spots along the
way. Money for the jail, new hires at all parts of the sheriff’s
department, new equipment, time for the sheriff to settle in for the
long term and continue with his progress.
One thought on “Sheriff Scott’s Dilemma”
It is no secret why our County Jail has the problems it does, due to the state releasing inmates and downgrading crime.
But, does anyone understand why?
Over the years the state prison has undergone hundreds maybe thousands of lawsuits which resulted in changes in prison policies and oversight of prison. To delete the lawsuits of prison inmates the state decided in its emphasis wisdom to bring it to the local level where these lawsuits don’t apply.
Most incarcerated in the county don’t have attorneys who take a genuine interest in their clients and their well being in county jail.
Ergo, once you’re in, no one defends. Job is done, case over, next.
So what do I mean by that?
Remember the inhumane living conditions that were reported in our local county jail? The Public defender who took the pictures circulated the pictures amongst his peers, but didn’t bother reporting it to the FBI OR any disability rights groups. Nope it was circulated among attorneys and mum was the word.
Until lawsuits result in changed policies which will result in more lawsuits the prisons will remain closed and the counties will go broke. Once the counties are broke, and people begin taking the law in their own hands, the state may reopen the institutions they shut down to protect the public.