FAIRFIELD — Solano County agrees with the 2012-13 grand jury that the Juvenile Detention Facility Complex in Fairfield could be changed for the better, though it also noted some obstacles.
But the county avoided responding to grand jury findings concerning two juveniles who escaped the facility on March 14 by climbing the fence and who later were recaptured. Instead, the county said that an investigation is underway.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed with the responses by the county Probation Department by unanimous vote. The grand jury issued its report May 31.
One grand jury finding dealt with the need to transport juveniles from the Juvenile Detention Facility at 740 Beck Ave. to courts in downtown Fairfield and in Vallejo. This procedure is time-consuming, costly and poses a possible safety risk, the grand jury said.
The Probation Department agreed. Unfortunately, it said, the only alternative appears to be building a courtroom at the Juvenile Detention Facility, which would require state or county money that is unavailable. The department gave no cost estimate.
Another grand jury finding involved the video camera security system along the facility’s perimeter fencing. The camera system cannot monitor all secured areas because of blind spots and the system doesn’t store images, the grand jury report said.
The Probation Department agreed that video system improvements are needed and said it hired a consultant to make recommendations. The Board of Supervisors response said the board anticipates approving a contract in late September to make the recommended upgrades.
That’s a slight change from the county’s response to the 2011-12 grand jury criticisms of the video system. The county in that case said that the system design “continues to meet the existing security needs of the facility.” It also said the grand jury recommendations would be considered as part of a comprehensive look at security and the camera system.
Part of the 2012-13 grand jury report focused on the March 14 escape. It said that no counselor was present in the exercise yard, in violation of staff policies, and that the video security system was incapable of viewing and recording the escape.
But the county refused to say whether video camera inadequacies or failure of staff to follow policies contributed to the escape. Instead, the response said simply that the investigation is continuing and that additional comments are inappropriate.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.