Bailed Out

The Monterey County Jail averages 1,100 inmates, though its official capacity is 825. An $89 million expansion plan is underway, due to be completed in October of 2017.

When local agencies started bracing for criminal justice realignment – the process of unloading California’s overcrowded state prisons and shifting some inmates to counties – they anticipated a few unforeseen costs.

One unlikely expense is long-term health care for inmates, many of whom are serving their sentences in the Monterey County Jail.

“Realignment [has] caused the cost of providing medical and mental health care to inmates of the Monterey County Jail to increase dramatically,” Assistant County Administrative Officer Manny González wrote in a Sept. 18 memo. “The county has had to spend more time and money on inmates with chronic conditions.”

That comes on top of alleged inadequate health care practices delivered by contractor California Forensic Medical Group. CFMG and the county are defendants in a lawsuit filed in 2013 by the Monterey County Public Defender and American Civil Liberties Group. “[CFMG] provides deficient medical care in nearly every respect,” the lawsuit alleges. “[Inmates] fail to receive timely or appropriate treatment, resulting in unnecessary and prolonged pain, suffering, worsening of their conditions, and sometimes even death.”

On Sept. 16, the County Board of Supervisors approved $3 million in expenditures to help pay health care costs at the jail. About half that money will fund 11 new sheriff’s deputy positions. The rest will bolster CMFG’s existing contract.

But the buck stops with the Community Corrections Partnership, a collective of county officials that works in criminal justice and rehabilitation. The partnership is on the hook for $1 million.

Members were scheduled to meet Sept. 24, after the Weekly’s deadline, to consider authorizing the expense. The partnership was created in 2011 as a result of AB 109, the state’s strategy to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering the prison population to be reduced.

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Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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