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Grand Jury Report finds Monterey County Jail lacks proper surveillance, staffing and funding

New housing units for Monterey County Jail. Calista Silva (KION Chief Photographer)
Calista Silva
New housing units for Monterey County Jail. Calista Silva (KION Chief Photographer)

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV)-- The 2021-2022 Monterey County Civil Grand Jury completed its report on Monterey County jails and found a lack of staff and communication with the Board of Supervisors has led to dangerous situations for the prisons and the general public.

The staff report points out that the Monterey County Jail has had three escape attempts by murder suspects since 2019 and has raised security concerns at the facility.

In an escape from 2019, the grand jury said they were unable to find any surveillance video of that incident. Part of this, they said, was due to motion detection alerts not being used to aid in detecting escapees.

The grand jury argues motion detection alerts are a "standard" for video surveillance systems.

In an incident involving a third escapee in 2021, the grand jury said deputies at the jail failed to do a head count of inmates when escorting them from a rooftop yard to a housing area.

This was one of multiple issues for that incident that delayed their response, however, as the grand jury reported a 9-1-1 emergency dispatcher did not notify police or jail/sheriff's staff of a possible escaped inmate as reported by a concerned resident.

The Grand Jury said this dispatch error caused a 3-hour delay in police and sheriff's office response to the report of that escaped inmate.

But grand jury investigators said the staffing at the jail and in the sheriff's office has gone down, too.

The grand jury made multiple recommendations to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to address this. It includes approving more funds to the sheriff's office starting July 2023.

The report also indicates that the sheriff's office should hire a consultant to look into not just its video surveillance and motion detection system, but also if physical security concerns can be addressed.

We reached out to the Monterey County Sheriff's Office for comment.

They only responded to say they have 90 days to address recommendations made by the grand jury and will only issue a formal response within that time frame.

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Victor Guzman

Victor Guzman is the Assistant News Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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