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Holding cells not seen the same

Holding cells not seen the same

The first thought of a jail cell detainee might be that someone is watching them at all times. But in some cases, if detainees can’t see an officer, then the officers can’t see them.

During its investigation of holding cells at 10 local law enforcement stations, the Tulare County Grand Jury found that at least three facilities do have security cameras installed in their cells. The three listed in the Grand Jury’s 2012-13 Final Report were the Sheriff’s Substations in Porterville and Pixley and the Lindsay Police Department.

According to the report, there is a single holding cell in Lindsay. The cell is inspected before and after a detainee has been placed in it. Juveniles are placed in the cell with the door open, males are locked into the holding cells and females are kept in a separate room handcuffed to a bench until they can be transported to the Bob Wiley Detention Facility. But there are no cameras within the cell area.

“Those facilities having security cameras are able to monitor detainees as needed,” the report stated.

The report stated the reason for the investigation was to “inspect these facilities, looking at overall conditions, safety, and management” due to “a history of suicides in some of the holding cells.” By law under California Penal Code 919 (b), the Grand Jury is mandated to inquire into the conditions and management of public prisons within the County.

In Exeter, detainees are not only watched by a camera but they are transported to the Main Jail in Visalia for booking within 45 minutes of arrival. Juveniles are not kept in the cells and remain in the cell area next to an officer until they are transported to the Juvenile Detention Facility. In Woodlake, detainees are transported “immediately” for booking at the Main Jail.

While Lindsay was one of three agencies listed for not having security cameras, they were also one of the few to have already implemented the Grand Jury’s top recommendation. The Grand Jury recommends all law enforcement agencies use citizens serving court ordered community service to do the daily cleaning of the holding cell areas. While the Grand Jury concedes that not using city employees to clean facilities may require negotiation with unionized custodial workers, it said not using city personnel as a janitorial service “is financially beneficial to the local governments.”

Lindsay has City maintenance crews clean the cells Monday through Friday but use court ordered community service workers on the weekend. Cities exclusively using City personnel to clean its holding cells were Dinuba, Tulare, Visalia, Porterville and Woodlake. In Dinuba, Tulare, Visalia and Porterville, City maintenance staff clean the cells. In Woodlake, on duty officers are responsible for cleaning the holding cells.

Exeter was the exception to all of the rules. Instead of having detainees, City workers or court ordered workers, Exeter uses a private janitorial service to clean its cells on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For more information on the 2012-13 Final Report, call the Tulare County Grand Jury at 559-624-7295.

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