270 cameras installed at Santa Clara County jail to help troubled system

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There are new surveillance cameras at the Santa Clara County Jail tonight. The Sheriff's office says it's a big step towards the implementation of reforms in a troubled system.

There are new surveillance cameras at the Santa Clara County Jail tonight. The Sheriff's office says it's a big step towards the implementation of reforms in a troubled system.

In March, security cameras captured a huge jailhouse brawl that happened less than 24 hours after Sheriff Laurie Smith installed seven cameras. Those cameras bought with Smith's own money, from Costo, after a county supervisor told her it would cost millions of dollars and years to set up a quality monitoring system.

RELATED: Santa Clara Co. jail inmate claims abuse, beatings at hands of deputies

Last week, the last of 270 cameras were installed in the main jail, costing only $20,000. It's a stopgap measure until a more advanced system can replace them.

"The intent is to provide greater transparency for the public and our jail population," explained Assistant Sheriff Carl Neusel.

This comes on the heels of a string of excessive force accusations against the jail. Last August, three deputies were charged in the highly publicized beating death of Michael Tyree.

Then, two guards were charged with assaulting inmate Ruben Garcia, who filed a federal lawsuit, also charging excessive force against several guards.

RELATED: Judge rules 3 Santa Clara Co. guards to stand trial for murder in beating of inmate


Neusel says the cameras are already paying dividends. In a recent assault, where inmates attacked a rival with a six-inch shank. Neusel says the cameras revealed something rare.

"That is, the ability of these inmates to stage and carry out very well coordinated and well planned attacks on an inmate," he said.

There's no audio on the camera and it takes forever to download the tape. But for now, the Sheriffs office says they're good enough.

RELATED: Newly installed cameras show massive inmate brawl at Santa Clara County Jail

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