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Jail problems mount for county

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Trinity Countyseal 200By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — The dilapidated jail is becoming worse, and county officials were told by Sheriff Woody Wallace that the county is running out of options.

“We’re out of compliance. We have a liability issue,” Wallace said. “If we’re found out of compliance, that opens up a whole lot of lawsuits against us.

“It’s a sinking ship,” he said.

Wallace said he has been in contact with state agencies, and has been told the county is not abiding by jail standards, and essentially, it has 90 days to get it fixed.

“We’ve had other issues,” he said. “With overcrowding, multiple times we’ve had to keep more people that we’re allowed to in that jail, because other jails are not taking inmates because they’re shut down over COVID. Last week, there was a problem with a sewage line at the jail, and raw sewage leaked out. then there was another backup that flooded the dispatch area and sewage started backing up in the sink.”

County Attorney Colton Hay said that in his discussions with the state, it has come to light that while the Trinity County Jail has been grandfathered in to hold prisoners, it is currently barely meeting standards. 

Wallace said he recommends building a temporary structure while waiting for the Jail Commission to come up with a plan for a new facility, but is willing to accept any ideas.

“We can build any temporary structure we want, as long as we can prove we can keep them there,” he said. “We can use COVID money because it’s an emergency situation. We can build a dormitory structure, and it will allow us to pull inmates out of that and other jails, and we can use it for three years.”

Wallace cautioned that in addition to the facility, five full-time employees will have to be hired to run it. He also said that the state said there needs to be action on a new jail.

County Commissioner Neal Smith said he would prefer to purchase and renovate an existing structure to not spend county money on property not owned by the county.

Wallace will begin looking for existing structures to build a temporary structure, and present options at the next county meeting. However, he stressed that the county must build a new permanent facility, as the temporary facility is a one-time deal.

Wallace also was directed to look at relocating the dispatch office.

In a related matter, the county will begin using the web-based Nixle for public information purposes for county residents.

In other business, the court:

• approved official bonds for Lenore Martinez and Molly Ware;

• approved personnel action forms;

• approved seeking bids for a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck the county has for sale; and

• tabled a request from the Apple Springs VFD seeking $7,500 for repairs.

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