2019 - 2020
Shasta County Grand Jury
Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Grand Jury Compliance Report
This Compliance Report covers the responses to the 2018/2019 Grand Jury Consolidated Report. The full Consolidated Report, approved by the Shasta County Superior Court, is available to the public and is archived online at www.shastacountygrandjury.org. California Penal Code Sections 933 and 933.05 mandate there be responses to final Grand Jury Reports. The current sitting Grand Jury may review the responses to the Investigative Reports from the prior year’s Grand Jury to ensure timely and adequate responses to the reports from the elected officials and governing bodies of the public agencies, special district or educational institution that are the subjects of the reports.
Elected officials must respond within 60 days; governing bodies (i.e., City Council) must respond within 90 days after a report is released to the public. The Grand Jury fully reviewed the Reports from 2018-2019 and the responses from the governing bodies charged with preparing those documents. It is with great appreciation that we report all were in total compliance with the required time period for compliance with Penal Code §933 and all responses complied with Penal Code §933.05.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
The District Attorney's Office
"Fighting the Good Fight"
In the past two years, Shasta County’s District Attorney’s (DA’s) office has lost approximately one third of its prosecutors, some citing burn-out and/or the need for more family time. It has been difficult to refill the vacated positions as very few qualified attorneys are applying for them. The necessity to recruit and train new prosecutors plus the importance of retaining both new and seasoned prosecutors has never been more evident.
The county’s criminal justice system is no longer able to perform the way it was designed. Due to California’s Assembly Bill 109 (AB109), the Shasta County Jail is required to incarcerate nonviolent felons, previously housed in the state prison, leaving very little room for misdemeanor criminals. Thus, people committing misdemeanors are often booked and released within hours, and some go on to commit more crimes. Offenders have lost respect for the criminal justice system and may not even show up to hear what they are being charged with or to make a plea. Because of this, cases are often bundled with other pending cases that a particular criminal has previously been charged with and these are processed together to try to save time and effort. This is just one of the problems overburdening our District Attorney’s staff; but it is a major one. Our criminal justice system is attractive to all criminals. This problem will continue until the Shasta County Jail has adequate space and jail beds.
The DA’s office is doing a remarkable job under very stressful conditions and they are constantly looking for ways to better the criminal justice system. Our District Attorney’s Office has already made changes to alleviate some of the problems in our criminal justice system by negotiating for and initiating the Chronic Offenders Program, which jails the nine worst repeat offenders; thus, restoring some accountability for crime. This is a small start in the right direction but more can be done. They continuously watch for appropriate grants that might be available to help with funding for more prosecutors. Also, they would like to be able to recognize the selfless efforts of the people at the DA’s office.
F1. The DA's office caseload is large and the lack of more financial resources is resulting in a loss of experienced attorneys and increased difficulty in hiring qualified replacements.
F2. AB109 and Props 47, 57, and SB1437 have caused major workload increases in the DA's office resulting in burn-out and difficulty in hiring new attorneys.
F3. Rural Shasta County is not competitive with wages in the private sector or some other counties, leading to difficulty in hiring new attorneys.
F4. In the past, the DA's office relied on state and federal grants to fund some of their needs but many grants have been discontinued or have restrictions that hinder the functioning of the DA.'s office.
F5. People committing misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes are now booked and released within hours because of the lack of jail space. This impedes the DA's ability to prosecute because many offenders do not show up for their court hearing/arraignment and may continue to commit additional crimes.
F6. Plea Bargaining is used in approximately 90% of the cases which saves time, court costs and court space.
F7. Some prosecutors respond 24/7 to evaluate major crimes, which can cause burn-out.
F8. The DA's office has done an outstanding job of keeping morale high in spite of limited resources.
R1. No recommendation will be given for F1.
R2. By November 1, 2020, the DA's office will develop a program to recognize the prosecutors, acknowledging that they are appreciated.
R3. By November 1, 2020, the DA's office will develop a recruitment program that emphasizes the quality of life in Shasta County.
R4. The DA's office will continue to be on the look-out and apply for any new grants that might help with the budget shortfall.
R5. By November 1, 2020, the DA's office will negotiate to increase the allocation of beds in the Chronic Offender Program (COP) from 9 beds to at least 15 beds. The increase in the number of beds for COP will emphasize accountability to repeat offenders.
R6. The DA's office will continue to bargain for rehabilitation programs and/or community service as a viable sentencing option.
R7. By November 1, 2020, the DA's office will encourage first responders who are involved in major violent cases to make at least one visit to a trauma therapist.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Shasta County District Attorney:
F1 through F7
R2 through R7
Shasta County Board of Supervisors:
"It's a Jail"
Shasta County Adult Detention Facility Inspection Report
During the course of the investigation it was determined that the Shasta County Jail operates at a court-ordered maximum capacity of 484 inmates. Capacity issues arise from the fact that the jail was never intended to be utilized for long term incarceration when it was originally constructed in 1984. Long term incarceration has been as result of the State of California’s Prison Realignment requirements (commonly referred to as AB109). Approximately 70% of those currently held in custody at the SCJ have been arraigned and are awaiting trial or are serving multiple year sentences.
Operating at capacity on a daily basis requires the facility to rely on a classification system to determine which individuals to keep in custody and which individual to release in order to accommodate the limited capacity This continual need to release individuals from the facility has given an impression to the public that the jail has a “revolving door” policy.
The jail staff interviewed indicated low morale in the workplace. They are required to work significant amounts of overtime weekly, which contributes to the morale issue. All staff that were interviewed expressed a genuine commitment to their profession and cited that the perception of the revolving door the jail has is not a true representation of their work product or their dedication to the safety of the public or the inmates that are housed at the SCJ.
Excessive overtime is a result of understaffing due to a lack of qualified individuals applying for the Correctional Officer positions needed to be filled at the jail. This chronic understaffing also results in a lack of appropriate supervision for the staff. Shift supervisors often end up having to fill a vacant shift normally handled by a correctional officer rather than be fully focused on their responsibilities as a watch commander. Recruitment efforts for the facility, to relieve the staffing issue, are hampered by the fact that wages for correctional officers in Shasta County are not commensurate with those who work in similar facilities in other counties. This data is readily available.
There is a pervasive perception that a “blind-eye” has been turned towards the issues presented by prison realignment – overcrowding and early release – as well as the historic underfunding for public safety both statewide and locally. The goals set forth by AB109 and the promise of additional funding to the counties, now being responsible for housing those once in prison, have proved to be unrealistic and the funding disproportionate for the amount of services that must be provided.
The inescapable fact is the jail facility is old, aging, and was not designed to be used as a prison. There is no effective solution to the issues caused by prison realignment on the horizon to prevent the unintended issue of chronic early release and recidivism. Yet, despite these challenges it is evident that the jail staff does the best they can within the parameters they have to work with, and the care and safety of the inmates is their daily priority.
F1. The jail facility is old and wearing out. The jail was never designed to serve for long term incarceration making it difficult to meet current demands.
F2. The jail facility is too small, and its design does not fit current demands. This leads to early releases and classification issues as well as safety concerns.
F3. The jail has an internal approach for the early release of inmates but will be testing VPRAI in the future. Classification of inmates is a multifaceted issue requiring constant change to respond to current laws and bail reform requirements.
F4. There are not enough cameras in the facility and many blind spots. The lack of cameras leads to higher potential of violence towards other inmates or correctional officers.
F5. The nutrition provided to inmates is above average.
F6. The request/grievance procedure is well understood by inmates.
F7. The introduction of the iPads has reduced the inmate violence within the housing units.
F8. The Inmate Welfare Fund is supplemented by the iPad placement fee paid by GTL. The placement fee is a potential source of revenue to be considered for jail improvements.
F9. Inmates have the opportunity, while incarcerated, to further their education.
F10. The jail is understaffed leading to excessive overtime and low morale.
F11. The Correctional Officers are underpaid based on state employment data. The lack of sufficient pay leads to issues with recruitment and retention of correctional officers and exacerbates overtime.
F12. The Correctional Officers training and continuing education are above the STC requirements.
F13. Excessive use of force by Correctional Officers is not used as a form of punishment against inmates. If unauthorized excessive force is used, jail staff are disciplined and held accountable.
F14. Due to a cumbersome website platform, the CGL Report was not readily available to the public leading to an appearance of lack of transparency surrounding the status of the jail facility.
F15. Although the deadline was September 30, 2019 for CGL to issue a final report on Jail Operations to the BOS, this Grand Jury has found no evidence of a final report being submitted to the BOS.
F16. Although the deadline was September 30, 2019 for the Sheriff’s Office to present the BOS with a plan for implementation of the recommendations set forth in the CGL report, none could be located.
R1. By July 1, 2021, alternative custody options shall be explored and a plan shall be established. Options could include a Navigation Center, out of county placement, work camps etc. Existing property assessment fees and monies being held in the county’s public safety fund should be utilized.
R2. By July 1, 2021, the Shasta County Jail shall obtain and implement an objective classification system.
R3. By July 1, 2021, the Shasta County Jail shall implement a plan to obtain better quality cameras and a plan for installation in sufficient numbers to provide adequate coverage. Funding to be allocated from a portion of the Inmate Welfare Fund, grant sources and yearly budgetary process. Upgrades should be completed within 4 years.
R4. By July 1, 2021, the Shasta County Jail shall create a plan to prioritize utilizing a portion of the Inmate Welfare Fund to benefit the safety of inmates by making improvement to the jail facility.
R5. By July 1, 2021, the Shasta County Jail shall increase security staffing by at least 10 additional personnel. Funding shall be prioritized and provided through budgetary process with the Board of Supervisors.
R6. By July 1, 2021 the Board of Supervisors shall consider taking steps to ensure compensation levels for all Correctional Officers is commensurate with California counties of similar size.
R7. By July 1, 2021 Shasta County Jail Administration will create and implement a recruitment team to highlight the benefits of living in Shasta County.
R8. All future studies/reports commissioned by the BOS, utilizing taxpayer funds, shall be made more easily available to the public on the BOS website within five days of the receipt by the board. This can be accomplished by setting up a Reports link that contains just commissioned reports without a user having to traverse a multi-layered and cumbersome website to locate them.
R9. By December 31, 2020 the Board of Supervisors will ensure that the finalized copy of the CGL Report is received and made available to the citizens of Shasta County.
R10. By December 31, 2020 the Board of Supervisors will follow through with their request of August 13, 2019 to have the Sheriff present to them an implementation plan that encompasses the recommendations of the CGL report.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Shasta County Sheriff:
F1 through F13
R1 through R5, R7, R10
Shasta County Board of Supervisors:
F1, F4, F10, F11, F15
R1, R3, R5, R6, R8, R9, R10
"So Much With So Little"
French Gulch-Whiskeytown School District
In the interest of discovering the effects of the Carr Fire on all schools and local districts within the burn scar in Shasta County, the 2019-2020 Grand Jury began a search of public records for information.
The French Gulch Whiskeytown School District (FGWSD) was near ground zero of the Carr Fire, which started on July 23, 2018, and continued through August 30, 2018. Initial research into the French Gulch Whiskeytown School District revealed a lack of a web site or any public information other than what was on the Shasta County Office of Education (SCOE) or the California Office of Education (COE) web sites. Further investigation revealed additional challenges for the district.
F1. None of the current district board members and only several key employees have attended Brown Act training.
F2. Volunteers and dedicated paid staff willing to work extended hours are the life blood of the school and provide the much-needed support to keep the school functional and solvent.
F3. Student absenteeism is a chronic problem causing, among other things, financial issues for the school and below average test scores for some of the students. Most of the students live
within one mile of the school yet for some reason, still do not attend classes regularly.
F4. A backup generator with switch gear is needed.
F5. Internet access for the school is unreliable, causing difficulty for staff to utilize necessary web-based programming.
R1. The entire school board, current and future, along with the superintendent and office manager must attend Brown Act training. This training shall begin with the next scheduled training offered by SCOE at no personal cost.
R2. A generator and automatic switch gear shall be acquired in preparation for power outages. This can be accomplished through grant funding or school fundraising opportunities.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
French Gulch Whiskeytown School District Board:
F1 through F5
FGWS Superintendent (invited):
F1 through F5
An Investigation of the Election Process of Shasta County
Your Vote Counts!
It was the consensus of the 2019-2020 Shasta County Grand Jury that the citizens of Shasta County would like reassurance that the voting processes in this county are above reproach. After extensive investigation, several interviews, and personal observation of election day activities, this Shasta County Grand Jury has determined that the voting processes in our county result in accurate tallies; that the security and other safeguards that are in place maintain and assure the accuracy of the system; and the resolve of the employees and the volunteers not only keep the system running smoothly but provide a proactive environment to continually improve the system when possible.
F1. In years past, only a sworn verbal statement was required to establish citizenship and/or eligibility at the time of voter registration. This provided the potential of stacking votes in a given election in many different ways. In the modern era, use of the DMV Driver’s License or ID card, the last four digits of the Social Security number, and a long list of other recognized sources of valid identification allows the Shasta County Department of Elections to properly vet all new voter registrants.
F2. To assure current and accurate voter information, the voter registration records are updated continually. An inactive voter will eventually be removed from the active voter list, but this could take up to eight years (two presidential election cycles).
F3. A good percentage of voter registration as well as good voter turnout is attained in part by the Shasta County Elections Office providing the public with constant reminders (mailings, media, etc.) to register and to vote before each upcoming election.
F4. Shasta County has a good record of preventing voter irregularities (fraud) because of the various cross-checks in place, the updates of voter information and the diligence of the employees and volunteers involved.
F5. The Shasta County Department of Elections indicate that the problems initially experienced with the DMV-provided voter registrations have been essentially eliminated, but are still being monitored.
F6. Voting machine results are accurate because of the initial program checks, many data checks against known results, the security provided, and the multiple tabulations of votes on isolated servers which includes a random hand count.
F7. Polling operations and tabulation of election data are efficient and accurate partly because of the detailed training required and provided by the Shasta County Elections Department.
F8. Due to the extensive checking that is done, there are no known massive or pervasive voting irregularities in Shasta County. While fraudulent/extra votes are theoretically possible, they are few and have not caused problems or raised questions in any final tabulations.
F9. The entire vote tabulation process has been made very efficient by the personnel in the Elections Office due to their job dedication and a proactive approach to continual improvement.
F10. Errors in ballot measure titles and/or summaries, such as occurred with Measure A in the November 2019 election, can mislead voters, causing some to not vote the way they intend.
R1. The Shasta County Elections Office and poll workers shall continue to maintain diligence through every avenue available to them to prevent a non-citizen or ineligible citizen from registering to vote or from voting in an election.
R2. Voter registration records are currently updated by the Shasta County Elections Office on a continuous basis. The Shasta County Elections Office shall continue to do so.
R3. The Shasta County Elections Office should continue to inform and encourage eligible citizens to register and to vote.
R4. The Shasta County Elections Office should continue its current procedures of voter fraud and election irregularities prevention.
R5. The Shasta County Elections Office shall continue monitoring DMV voter registration until the types of errors experienced to date are eliminated. DMV registrations thereafter shall be vetted as are all other voter registrations.
R6. The Shasta County Elections Office shall assure that all efforts to maintain completely accurate election results continue.
R7. The Shasta County Elections Office shall continue its training program at its current level.
R8. The Shasta County Elections Office shall continue to monitor and be alert for current and newly created types of voter fraud.
R9. The Shasta County Elections Office shall continue to be proactive in foreseeing and solving problems in the voting and voting tabulation processes.
R10. The Shasta County Elections Office shall assure that all election materials presented to the voters are absolutely correct.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters:
F1 through F10
R1 through R10
The Summer of Fire
Shasta County is known for its beautiful lush forests and its trout, steelhead, and salmon laden rivers. Visitors come from all over the world to partake in the Shasta County experience, and many stay. The population of Shasta County in 1930 was 14,000 and today the population is 180,000. The growth has slowed substantially in the last decade but the boom growth years between 1930 and 2010 have placed substantial stress on the county’s Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). New housing projects have expanded well into our forest areas, boasting green, pristine surroundings to attract new home buyers.
During most of the boom era, and continuing today, our previously effective forestry practices have gone by the wayside, placing our “green and pristine” wildlands in grave peril, creating the conditions for catastrophes such as the 2018 Carr Fire.
Between July 23, 2018 and August 30, 2018 Shasta County experienced the Carr Fire, the seventh most destructive wildfire in California wildfire history. There were 229,651 acres reduced to snags and ash; 1,604 structures, including homes were destroyed, while 277 others were damaged and sadly eight lives were lost. Over 38,000 people were evacuated for up to 10 days, and many of those who lost everything are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt.
The Shasta County area is prone to wildfires. There have been five significant fire incidents, as well as the countless smaller fires that have occurred since 1992 alone, each of which have ravaged the county. A sustained effort in the areas of fire fuel management and defensible space is required to mitigate or eliminate the threat of future fires. Any success our government agencies will have depends on all Shasta County citizens giving their full support and participation.
The 2019-20 Shasta County Grand Jury recognized the issue and began an investigation of wildfires in the county. This Grand Jury recognizes that the responsibility for change in Shasta County is required with the assistance of our local cities and county government, including our citizens, to ensure that the entire county follows through and promotes a long awaited and needed shift from suppression to prevention.
F1. Fire fuel management for the prevention of wildfires in Shasta County has not been a top priority for far too long, due to lack of funding, and limited manpower leading to a higher risk for the well-being of Shasta County.
F2. Fire Fuel management is an ongoing process that requires maintenance of previously completed projects so regrowth remains manageable.
F3. Shasta County Fire Department is unable to thoroughly identify defensible space and fire fuel management infractions due to understaffing. Absentee landowners and noncomplying landowners stretch the limited law enforcement officers’ resources.
F4. A structure in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) has an improved chance of withstanding, or not igniting a wildfire when defensible space requirements are practiced.
F5. There are elderly, disabled and other at-risk people living in the WUI who need physical or financial assistance to achieve a proper defensible space and decrease their personal risk as well as risk to their neighbors.
F6. Some members of the public may be misinformed from time to time by the media and social media about fire fuel management and defensible space requirements, leading to confusion resulting in a lack of compliance and support.
F7. There are fewer volunteer organizations available, than in previous years, to assist the “at-risk” community with defensible space maintenance, making that community more vulnerable.
F8. Inmate fire crew reduction due to AB109 and the inability to use off-season volunteer firefighters, due to their limited fire fuel management training, has resulted in a lack of manpower available for fire fuel management projects.
R1. By November 1, 2020, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors (BOS) shall direct the Shasta County Fire Department (SCFD) to develop an annually prioritized Fire Fuel Management (FFM) Plan listing the top FFM projects necessary to significantly reduce the expectation of another catastrophic fire.
R2. No later than December 31, 2020, the SCFD shall report progress of the FFM projects to the Shasta County BOS, and every quarter thereafter.
R3. After receiving a report from SCFD, the BOS shall make the report public through its normal reporting process, and on their website, prior to the next scheduled board meeting.
R4. By November 1, 2020, the BOS shall direct the SCFD to report monthly on the progress of the funding efforts and the project completions. Funding shall be developed through reprioritizing existing work plans, cost allotments and grants.
R5. By November 1, 2020, the three incorporated city councils within Shasta County shall direct their respective fire departments to develop an annually prioritized Fire Fuel Management (FFM) Plan listing the top FFM projects necessary to significantly reduce the potential of another catastrophic fire.
R6. By December 31, 2020, the three city fire departments in Shasta County shall report on the progress of the FFM priority projects to their respective city councils, and every quarter thereafter.
R7. After receiving a progress report the city councils shall make the reports public through their normal reporting process, on their respective websites and social media platforms, prior to the next scheduled council meeting.
R8. By November 1, 2020, each city council shall direct their respective fire departments to report monthly on the progress of the funding efforts and the project completions. Funding shall be developed through reprioritizing existing work plans, cost allotments and grants.
R9. By November 1, 2020, the BOS shall direct the Shasta County Fire Department to include ongoing “in-perpetuity” maintenance of fire fuel management projects in the quarterly report.
R10. Beginning fiscal year 2021, the BOS shall provide funding for maintenance to include spring vegetation treatment, limbing and other operations deemed necessary by County Fire. Funding for maintenance to be provided from sources such as assessment fees and defensible space non-compliance fines.
R11. The BOS shall identify other agencies and identify funding sources, such as grants, to further assist the at-risk community to maintain defensible space for their residences.
R12. Beginning fiscal year 2021, the Shasta County Fire Department. shall look into training and utilizing off-season volunteer fire department personnel for the purpose of Defensible Space Ordinance Enforcement Inspector activities. This can be funded through existing grants.
R13. By November 1, 2020, the BOS shall consider amending their October 22, 2019, Defensible Space Ordinance to provide more compliance incentives through steeper fines, faster legal action, and property liens, which will be addressed and assessed in a timely manner.
R14. By December 31, 2020, the SCFD shall prepare and initiate a comprehensive public education process to increase awareness of fire prevention, defensible space and fire fuel management. The BOS shall make the public aware of the positive effects of the Defensible Space Ordinance. The BOS can utilize social media platforms, mass media and their existing website to accomplish this task.
R15. Beginning with the 2021 Spring Quarter and one week each year for ten years thereafter, in order to ease costs to private land owners, the City Councils of Redding, Anderson and Shasta Lake City, along with the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, shall implement an “Amnesty Day” plan to permit ‘no-or-low cost’ dumping of defensible space waste materials at each landfill located within each entity’s jurisdiction.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Shasta County Board of Supervisors:
R1, R3, R4, R9, R10, R11, R13, R15
Shasta County Fire Department:
R1, R2, R9, R12, R14
Redding City Council:
R5, R7, R8, R15
Redding Fire Department:
R5, R6, R8
Anderson City Council:
R5, R7, R8, R15
Anderson Fire Department:
R5, R6, R8
Shasta Lake City Council:
R5, R7, R8, R15
Shasta Lake City Fire Department:
R5, R6, R8