Monterey County is pleased to have received notice of the United States District Court’s preliminary injunction in the litigation over conditions in the Monterey County Jail. The order, dated April 14, 2015, allows the county to implement an action plan for improvements to the jail that the County and Sheriff’s Department wanted to begin several years ago, but which was subsequently delayed by litigation. The order retains the right of the Sheriff to operate the jail to protect public safety.

While the order granted Plaintiffs’ motion in the case, Judge Paul Grewal acknowledged the cooperative work done by both parties. County Counsel Charles McKee sees the ruling as a win-win for inmates and the County in that the order acknowledges the changes and improvements already made at the facility, which will be included as part of the implementation plan ordered by the ruling.

“The County proposed the neutral experts which evaluated conditions in the jail and is already on record as proposing their recommendations to be implemented,” says Monterey County Counsel Charles McKee.
“The judge’s ruling now gives us the opportunity to follow these recommendations. This order springs from the work of the expert review and the improvements already completed.”

The Injunction asks the County to file a plan to remedy 16 specific issues within the jail, covering issues such as tuberculosis screening, the handling of intoxicated incoming inmates, suicide prevention actions, increased inmate programs and activities, and making additional sign language interpreters available.

“Of the 16 identified elements in the order, most have already been addressed and are in place and others are in various stages of implementation,” says Sheriff Steve Bernal.

Some language of the Order may need clarification from the court, such as the heightened risk of contracting Tuberculosis.

“The jail has not had an infectious case of Tuberculosis in 5 years, so it would appear screening efforts in place are already working,” says Bernal.

The court order asks the county to file a plan to address issues in the jail within 60 days. As an older facility, it was not designed or built with modern concepts of disability access in mind. According to the Sheriff, “the plan will be a continuation of the modernization improvements undertaken over the past several years, including a brand new facility.”

Cmdr. John Thornburg
PIO
Monterey County Sheriff’s Office