FINAL REPORT
Case #0400 Juvenile Hall

REASON FOR INVESTIGATION

The 2000-2001 San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury (SJCCGJ) was concerned with the appearance of neglect when a ward at San Joaquin County Juvenile Hall gave birth unattended while in her cell.

BACKGROUND

San Joaquin County Juvenile Hall, also known as Peterson Hall, has accumulated lawsuits as well as a large list of charges against them.

METHOD OF INVESTIGATION

Members of the 2000-2001 SJCCGJ made several unannounced visits, at various times of the day and evening hours, to Peterson Hall, for the purpose of making visual tours as well as inquiring into and reviewing implementation of polices and procedures.

The Chief Juvenile Probation Officer was interviewed by the SJCCGJ.

A scheduled in depth tour of Peterson Hall was made by the entire SJCCGJ.

Numerous Peterson Hall staff members were interviewed.

Transcripts of the San Joaquin County Criminal Grand Jury were reviewed.

A Management Review dated June 1997, by Daniel C. Smith & Associates and The Woodland Group (MR 1997) was carefully reviewed by the SJCCGJ.

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

The SJCCGJ has found that the management of the Juvenile Division of the San Joaquin County Probation Department, specifically Peterson Hall, is below the standards of other detention facilities in San Joaquin County.

The (MR 1997) had the following findings: Employees within a work group related well with their supervisor and co-workers but related poorly outside their immediate subdivision. The SJCCGJ finds this condition continues to be true today.

While touring the facility with the department head, it was noted by members of the Grand Jury that few of the employees, and none of the wards, appeared to be familiar with the department head. In other facilities staff members and wards/inmates readily recognized the department head.

The results of the Management Review in 1997 (MR 1997) suggested that unit supervisors and the division staff as well as central administrative staff could benefit from learning improved management techniques, especially those aimed at identifying problems and developing workable and timely solutions or communication skills. We find there to be a lack of communication skills and/or timely solutions to problems. i.e. the incident of the ward giving birth unattended.

The (MR 1997) identified the availability of several excellent behavior-based evaluation tools. The Department's response to the problem of poor evaluations illustrates several distinct shortcomings in management's overall approach to problem solving. We find that this observation is still valid.

The (MR-1997) also recommended developing core-training requirements for various positions, condense procedure manuals and insist that all staff follow them.

Discrepancies were noted in logbooks kept by the counselors on duty. Some unit logbook entries were postdated. Medication scheduled to be administered to a ward on the following day was already entered in the log as a completed task.

Counselor morale is very low.

The (MR 1997) recommended a full time training officer position be established, and that career advancement should be predicated on attending training and incorporating that knowledge in employee's everyday routine.

Policy and procedure manuals exist and are reviewed only when employees are first hired. Thereafter, they are not reviewed; henceforth, the application and use is inconsistent.

The SJCCGJ feels that had the San Joaquin County Probation Department properly implemented the recommendations submitted to them by the Management Review dated 1997, the same problems would not continue within Juvenile Hall today.

Emergency Medical Response (ambulance service) in the unattended birth was extremely slow (it took eighteen minutes to arrive at the location).

A Registered Nurse has been added to the staff at Peterson Hall since the unattended birth in July 2000, but medical personnel are not available on site twenty-four hours a day. Other detention facilities visited by the SJCCGJ had medical personnel on duty twenty-four hours a day.

The co-ed unit does not always have a female counselor on duty.

On one evening visit, custodial personnel facilitated Grand Jury members entry into Peterson Hall without having proper identification presented. While immediate access to the interior of the facility was not available, the entry of any person without proper identification is a dangerous practice.

RECOMMENDATION

Comprehensive training for counselors should be given on an on-going, regular scheduled basis.

Hiring policies for management should receive serious review.

Administrators should have significant practical experience in the supervision of wards.

The counselors' career ladder should be extended to enable promotion to managerial level.

Prior to completing a probationary period, all supervisors should complete a significant training curriculum in evaluation preparation and discipline.

Annual evaluations should be completed and reviewed for adherence to sound evaluation principal. The permanent advancement to any supervisory position should be predicated on an evaluation of actual performance in the completion of good employee evaluations.

Supervisors and unit managers need to target discipline, evaluation techniques and problem-solving strategies. As part of each supervisor's development program, they and their Manager should identify key areas of training and expectations for improvement. We reinforce this specific recommendation of the Management Review.

Since The Action Plan shows that all but two recommendations have been implemented, yet many of the same problems still exist at Juvenile Hall, the SJCCGJ asks that the recommendations from the Management Review be re-evaluated for correct implementation. A new study underway at this time will have no greater impact than the last if it is not monitored for implementation and expectations put on those in charge for immediate performance improvement.

Medical personnel should be on duty twenty-four hours a day.

Medical Emergency Response time should be reviewed.

There should be at least one female counselor on duty on the co-ed unit twenty-four hours a day.

No one should be allowed to enter a secure section of the building without following proper procedure and having proper identification at any time.

The 2000-2001 SJCCGJ strongly suggests that the operation of Peterson Hall facility would be better served under the jurisdiction of the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department in conjunction with the counseling staff of the Probation Department. We recommend the SJC Board of Supervisors do everything in their power to bring this about. This would provide a safer, more secure environment at economic savings for the wards at the facility and the citizens of San Joaquin County.

RESPONSE

Pursuant to Section §933.05 of the Penal Code:

  1. The Chief Juvenile Probation Officer of the County of San Joaquin shall report to the Presiding Judge of the San Joaquin County Superior Court, in writing, and within ninety days of the publication of this report. The statute requires as to each finding in the report, the respondent indicate one of the following:
    1. The respondent agrees with the finding.
    2. The respondent disagrees with the finding with an explanation of the reasons therefore.
Section §933.05 also requires as to each recommendation, the respondent indicate one of the following:

    1. The recommendation has been implemented with a summary of the action taken.
    2. The recommendation has not been implemented, but will be, with a time frame for implementation.
    3. The recommendation requires further analysis, with an explanation of the scope of the analysis and a time frame not to exceed six months.
    4. The recommendation will not be implemented, with an explanation therefore.
  1. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors shall report to the Presiding Judge of the San Joaquin County Superior Court, in writing, and within ninety days of the publication of this report. This statute requires that as to each finding in the report, the respondent indicate one of the following:
    1. The respondent agrees with the finding.
    2. The respondent disagrees with the finding with an explanation of the reasons therefore.

Section §933.05 also requires as to each recommendation, the respondent indicate one of the following:

    1. The recommendation has been implemented with a summary of the action taken.
    2. The recommendation has not been implemented, but will be, with a time frame for implementation.
    3. The recommendation requires further analysis, with an explanation of the scope of the analysis and a time frame not to exceed six months.
    4. The recommendation will not be implemented, with an explanation therefore.