Civilian Jailers --Sheriff Replies

In response to your editorial "Why Not Civilians as Jailers?" (June 19), I strongly disagree on two major points.

First, the statement suggesting that non- law-enforcement personnel could replace deputy sheriffs in the jails and do so more efficiently, safely and economically is misleading and a disservice to your readers.

In making this endorsement, you cited a "suggestion" by a county Grand Jury some 11 years ago calling for a "county department of correctional services." You failed to mention that the 1979-80 county Grand Jury recommended that "deputy sheriffs continue to be used as jail staff for all adult county detention facilities."

The notion that non- law-enforcement personnel would be more economical probably begins with the belief that they could be recruited with lower standards and that they would require less training than deputy sheriffs. This reasoning conflicts with the situation now facing all county jails.

In our current state of overcrowding, coupled with the more serious and violent offenders now being incarcerated in county jails, it would seem illogical to staff them with people meeting only minimal requirements and undergoing far less training than currently provided.

Your editorial implied that Orange County does not employ any civilians within its jail system when, in fact, 38% of the line staff is composed of non- law-enforcement employees. Their jobs include a myriad of tasks. However, they are not called "corrections officers" and are not involved in the security aspects of jail operations. This results in considerable cost savings, and additional positions are constantly being evaluated.

Your editorial states, "Most other counties in California, as an Orange County staff study showed, use a combination of deputies and civilians hired and trained specifically to supervise prisoners. The approach saves money without sacrificing security."

This statement is, in fact, what Orange County has been doing for years. Your editorial is misleading, and I just wanted to set the record straight.



Orange County

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