Santa Clara County Sheriff announces changes at main jail

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- More changes are coming to a South Bay jail already under a magnifying glass after an inmate was allegedly beaten to death by three deputies in August. New numbers released Wednesday show most complaints about use of force involve one shift.

At the Santa Clara County Main Jail, the numbers aren't even close. Most of the complaints have been from one shift, the overnight shift. So they are adding two new supervisors to a shift that is staffed mostly by lower-seniority deputies.

Inmate complaints are not coming from in the prisoner in-take area where newly arrested inmates are processed, but in the main cell area, known as D Shift.

"D-Team is the least senior. It's the nightshift from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. They work most of the weekends, so it's generally junior people, including the supervision and management," Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said.

Force complaints this year are in single digits for other shifts. The 18 logged for D Shift represent 43 percent of all complaints.

So starting Monday, two senior managers -- a lieutenant and a sergeant -- will be added to D Shift to provide more supervision and monitoring. There will also be more training because of the number of inmates with mental illness.

"The department is committed to providing all custody staff with additional health training, including crisis intervention training, and members of D Shift that have not already received this training will be the first in line to receive it," Asst. Sheriff of Custody Operations Troy Beliveau said.

Retired Superior Court Judge Ladoris Cordell heads the county's blue ribbon commission looking into jail complaints. She suspects the complaint numbers may be on the low side.

"If you are classified as mentally ill and you're suffering from mental illness, do you really understand the complaint process? So there are many, many questions that we're going to ask," Cordell said.

The president of the correctional deputies union says the numbers need closer study, especially with the sheriff saying most of the force complaints are for the housing area.
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