Staffing shortages, limited jail capacity and poor communication between departments are weaknesses San Joaquin County needs to address in order to reduce crime, according to the annual county grand jury’s public safety report released Wednesday.
The report acknowledged that budget cuts and prison realignment have created substantial difficulties for authorities trying to create a safer county. But the county needs tackle citizens’ increasing concerns, and the grand jury identified three areas which could help reduce crime.
The report addressed the county’s overcrowded jail, which is forcing the Sheriff’s department to release inmates before they have served their full sentences in order to meet court-mandated limitations on prison population.
“This limited bed space problem has created an arrest-incarceration system that borders on catch-and-release,” the report states.
The grand jury said that the county hasn’t saved enough money from eliminating 33 correctional officer positions and should reinstate some positions. In addition, early-released inmates are creating more problems throughout the county.
On June 4, the county Board of Supervisors could decide whether to approve plans that would expand the jail by nearly 1,280 beds.
Despite the financial constraints that accompany the proposal, the grand jury recommended that the board increases the number of county correctional officers, then approve the jail expansion.
Cities and the county have experienced significant staffing shortages, which have negatively affected all public safety services citizens receive, the report stated.
In order to address those issues, the grand jury recommended city councils and the Board of Supervisors prove they are dedicated to reducing crime by increasing police, district attorney and public defender staffing before the end of the year.
Lastly, the grand jury applauded the leadership throughout the various departments, but identified a need for better communication between different law enforcement agencies. It proposed forming a committee that would study ways to increase efficiency and share capabilities within the county’s different criminal departments.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.