Details for GRAND JURY PRESENTMENT APRIL 2019

GRAND JURY PRESENTMENT ROCKDALE COUNTY GRAND JURY APRIL TERM 2018 TO: The Honorable David B. Irwin, Chief Judge The Honorable Robert F. Mumford, Judge Rockdale Superior Court Rockdale Judicial Circuit We, the Grand Jury, selected and sworn for the April Term 2018 of the Rockdale County Superior Court, make the following presentment: CRIMINAL OR ACCUSATORY FUNCTIONS All matters on the calendar for the April Term 2018 have been reviewed and the Grand Jury returned 90 True Bills 1, Continuances and 3 No Bills. IL CIVIL FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES Tour and Inspection of Rockdale County Jail On Wednesday, June 20th, members of the Rockdale County Grand Jury conducted an inspection of the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office (RCSO). This inspection was primarily in response to two unrelated deaths of inmates that had occurred in the jail in recent months. At the time of this report, the GBI had completed an investigation of one death, and the second death remained under investigation. Jury members arrived at the jail at noon and were greeted by jail officials. We were also greeted by District Attorney Alisha Johnson who came on site to visit briefly with jury members. After a brief entry conference and a review of previous Grand Jury inspection reports, a tour of the jail was conducted. Jury members were able to walk through and observe the operational areas of the jail while accompanied by jail officials. Jury members were able to interact with inmates, talk with employees, contractors, and observe inmate treatment programs taking place at the time. We were also able to observe inmates sitting around engaged in leisure activity. Jury members were shown the sally port (point of entry) for newly received inmates, the kitchen and food service area, about the leadership of Sheriff Eric Levett and expressed no misgivings about their jobs other than a need for competitive pay scales, upgraded equipment in some areas of the jail, and adequate manpower. The jail was at approximately 50% of their 750 rated capacity on the date of this inspection. 100 of these beds are designated for female inmates. However, there are secure posts and other areas of the jail which must be manned at all times no matter how many or how few inmates may be incarcerated. Inmate treatment programs observed included Rockdale Residential Treatment Program (RRSAT), and the Rockdale Reentry Intervention and Prevention Program (RRIPP). There was structure to these programs and inmates seemed engaged and very willing to participate. One female inmate mentioned another program that was really helping her called Moral Recognition Therapy (MRT). Other less structured programs taking place at the time included recreation and leisure time as mentioned previously. There were phones provided within the living units for inmates to use for outside calls. The party being called must agree to pay for these calls in advance before being connected. There are also opportunities for inmates to make free phone calls at certain tirnes throughout the day. A volunteer Chaplain is available to the inmates and can be called upon as needed after hours. AREAS OF CONCERN ~ Radio communication between the officers within the jail should be upgraded and improved. While the system in place may be marginally adequate, there are "dead zones" that exist which delay and possibly prevent good radio communication from taking place. This could create a major problem at critical times when officers need to communicate in a quick and secure manner. > The camera/monitoring system needs an upgrade to include a sound/voice component to provide better video and audio. The camera system in place is antiquated and does not include the new technology to better identify subversive and sometimes dangerous situations ~ Salary scales of officers should be studied and adjusted as necessary to assure salaries are competitive with other area law enforcement agencies. Jury members understand that this is a budget issue which may be beyond the authority of the sheriff to address without support from the county leadership. However, the sheriff needs to be able to recruit and "retain" good officers without frequent turnover created by officers moving on to other law enforcement agencies for more salary after a short period of employment at the RCSO. Furthermore, it does not seem to be a good use of county resources for the RCSO to routinely serve as a training ground for other law enforcement agencies. Jury members could not take CRITICAL NEEDS > Purchase and install repeaters throughout the jail to improve radio communication. ~ Upgrade camera/monftoring system within the jail to allow for good audio and video .of inmate movement and activity. ~ Conduct an analysis and upgrade of medical and mental health services. CONCLUSION Jury members approached this civic duty with great motivation and prepared to provide whatever feedback and constructive criticism necessary to benefit jail officials, the inmate population, and Rockdale County. This was accomplished we feel with good cooperation from jail officials, and some very capable jurors who participated in the inspection to include a registered nurse, a technology specialist, a former criminal justice professional, and others who brought high integrity and a good set of business skills to the process. HOwever, this was a "best effort" based on one afternoon of observation and consultation. This does not represent the work of trained and certified inspectors with time to spend several days assessing jail operations on all shifts. This will come when the jail is able to engage in national accreditation and meet the standards by which jails are measured nationwide and abroad. This should be "in addition to" any accreditation offered by the state of Georgia. Jury members were advised that RCSO has taken the initial steps to pursue national accreditation in the near future. The county will be well served when this takes place. For now, jail officials appear to be making the best use of existing resources and otherwise doing an excellent job. It would benefit the RCSO to try and schedule more tours of the jail so that other citizens of the county can see what Grand Jury members saw and to see how their tax dollars are being spent. In closing, there is a significant cost to accreditation, however, accreditation fees will in all likelihood be much less than the cost of litigation should there be future death of inmates in jail or other unfortunate incidents involving inmates in custody. This concludes our report. ORDER The above and foregoing General Presentment of the April Term 2018 Grand Jury of Rockdale County having been returned in open court; the same is hereby approved and ordered spread upon the minutes of said Court. It is further ordered that these Presentments be published in the Rockdaie Citizen. This the ______ dayof July, 2018. REVIEWED: Alisha A. Johnson District Attorney Rockdale Judicial Circuit GA. Bar No. 144706 Robert F. Mumford Superior Court Judge Rockdale Judicial Circuit

Categories