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Mon, Sept. 23

Auditors give jail a favorable report

PRESCOTT ­ Arizona County Insurance Pool auditors found recently that the Yavapai County Jail complies with Arizona Detention Association standards.

Their report indicates that auditors inspected three primary areas of the jail ­ classification, intervention/prevention of suicides and emergency evacuations.

Auditors described the jail's compliance with classification and intervention/prevention of suicides standards "outstanding."

They reviewed three files of incarcerated inmates and found that the jail staff has followed its classification policy, which complies with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

In addition, the jail not only has a plan for identifying and watching suicidal prisoners, but all detention officers also have to go through a four-hour training session on suicide intervention and prevention.

After reviewing two-fire evacuation drills staff and outside fire personnel conducted, inspectors found that the reports were favorable. The jail has a plan for emergencies, which includes a complete incident command system, they wrote in the review.

Also, detention officers receive training through the Yavapai County basic detention academy and then bi-annually, they wrote.

Auditors noted a consistency between jails in Prescott and Camp Verde, which is "rarely found when managing two facilities. It is obvious that line staff has been well trained and supervised to operate both facilities as policy and procedure dictate.

"It is refreshing to observe staff enjoying their jobs as much as their appearance, demeanor and actions indicated," the auditors wrote commending Commander Scott Mascher on the outstanding manner in which his staff fulfills its responsibilities.

Mascher said this positive review may reduce the jail insurance premium.

The audit comes nearly two years after the U.S. Department of Justice conducted an investigation in 1997 after two violent incidents at the jail ­ one ending in a homicide. The investigation revealed that the jail was violating the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

The federal authorities found many deficiencies including the jail's failure to protect inmates from inmate-to-inmate violence, discrimination against the female inmates regarding a trusty status as well as inadequate mental and medical services that the jail offered and lack of sanitation and supply of basic necessities.

Many of the problems were a result of overcrowding, understaffing, inadequate surveillance and a lack of identification and classification systems for inmates.

Although the DOJ never imposed sanctions and mandates against the jail and the county, Mascher said previously that he used the DOJ outline of inspections and audits as a management tool to make corrections.

During the investigation, the county built new pods at the Camp Verde Jail, which alleviated overcrowding.

Contact the reporter at mburic@prescottaz.com

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