Santa Clara County supervisors to discuss jail updates
The Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

The state of Santa Clara County jails — both inside and out — will come before the Board of Supervisors Sept. 1, with topics ranging from suicide prevention to hiring practices that take officers’ past conduct into account.

Up for review are suicide prevention measures at Main Jail North in North San Jose and the Elmwood Correctional Complex in Milpitas, set to be completed in 2023. The measures include designating cells for suicide-prone inmates that are protrusion-free and having modified doors that allow increased visibility. Other improvements in the works are audio and video monitoring.

Meanwhile, design proposals for the new Main Jail South in San Jose at 885 North San Pedro St. are due this winter.

Supervisors will also take a look at suggestions for creating a more tolerant Sheriff’s Office and correctional officers.

“We need to rely on hiring practices to make sure good folks get hired and other folks that have problems… don’t make their way into our system,” Supervisor Joe Simitian said when supervisors addressed law enforcement reform Aug. 25.

The Sheriff’s Office has been working on changing the training program for correctional officers to establish a “zero tolerance of excessive use of force, intimidation or retaliation from staff or inmates,” according to the staff report.

Recommendations for best hiring practices also suggest that a history of “misconduct, violence, racism, other forms of bigotry, or any variance from the office’s core values” would immediately disqualify someone from working as an officer.

The county’s 2019 budget allocated $13 million toward jail reform, following two lawsuits in 2018 alleging that inmates were kept in inhumane conditions and the jails lacked medical and mental health services.

Additional agenda items

Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Susan Ellenberg have asked county administration to deliver a report on children in the care and custody of the county, including those in foster care and juvenile detention, and how they are being taken care of during the COVID-19 pandemic. Requested updates include education and mental health access and social worker visitation.

Supervisors will also consider taking $1 million from the county’s contingency reserves for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to put toward Census efforts before the Sep. 30 deadline.

Supervisors meet at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 1. Click here to view the agenda packet and view the meeting.

Contact Madelyn Reese at [email protected] or follow her @MadelynGReese

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