Santa Clara County moves forward with jail reform plans per panel recommendations

Santa Clara County is moving forward with more plans for jail reform, consolidating more then 600 recommendations into a summarized 80 suggestions across a dozen different topics.

"I think the only conclusion we've come to is our jail system is seriously broken and we've got to fix it," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.
The review comes following the 2015 in-custody death of jail inmate Michael Tyree.

Prosecutors say three correctional deputies beat the inmate to death and are now on trial.
"I think the overarching question is, 'What can and should we do to provide some oversight to make sure something like this never happens again?'" said Supervisor Simitian.
Thursday, Simitian and Supervisor Cindy Chavez held a committee meeting to move forward with 80 summarized recommendations targeting a dozen areas of concern from suicide prevention and use of force to retaining good deputies.

Each of the supervisors who sit on the two-supervisor committee, plans to bring forward their own proposal for oversight.
"Really what we have to figure out is what is the best model for the jail. One of the challenges is there's lots of civilian oversight for enforcement, not so much for custody. So we have a little bit of a learning curve," said Supervisor Chavez.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith says she welcomes the changes, although it's not yet clear what the oversight format would be.
"We're the ones pushing the change, we're making the recommendations for the changes," said Sheriff Smith. "We're proud of everything we've done. We think we've made a lot of progress but we've got a lot of work to do."
During the past year and a half, some recommendations have been implemented.
"We have increased number of psychiatrists, nurses, clinicians, doctors that are available in the jail," said Supervisor Chavez.
Last week, 84 correctional deputies at the jail started wearing body cameras which is about 11% of the force.
The department says the remainder will be trained and wearing the cameras within nine months time.

The Sheriff's Department says every floor of its main jail in Downtown San Jose is outfitted with surveillance cameras. They're still waiting for them to be installed at Elmwood in Milpitas.

As for the price tag of any future changes, county staff said it would be a very large number and they're working on coming up with a price range.