Orange County, Calif.’s jails are undermanned and inadequately equipped but nevertheless are in good shape, according to a $250,000 private audit ordered in the aftermath of a grand jury probe that found deputies sleeping at their posts and using inmates to punish each other. The Orange County Register said the report by Crout & Sida Criminal Justice Consultants found the jail system was “effectively managed” and “relatively safe” – despite the October 2006 slaying of an inmate while a deputy in a nearby guard station watched television and texted girlfriends.
The audit recommended that nearly 455 new jailers be hired soon and that they primarily be sworn deputies, not civilian workers as proposed by county officials. While the audit found no major system wide flaws, experts said current problems could reach “critical mass” if allowed to fester. Orange County’s jail population has grown from 4,771 in 2001 to 6,360 in 2007; about half are awaiting trial or sentencing. An increasing number of inmates have been arrested on felonies, the hardest jail population to manage.