Josephine County Jail Receives Glowing Review from Grand Jury

An inspection of the Josephine County Jail by a grand jury found the facility 'clean, safe and adequate at this time for its purpose...administrated by a dedicated, efficient and highly professional staff.'

Posted: Mar. 1, 2019 3:29 PM
Updated: Mar. 1, 2019 3:41 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A report apparently filed following a grand jury inspection of the Josephine County Jail this week gave a sparkling review to the facility and staff, the Sheriff's Office published on Friday.

"We recently had a grand jury inspection and would like to share the results," the Josephine County Sheriff's Office posted on its Facebook page. The Sheriff's Office told NewsWatch 12 that this was a surprise inspection.

The report itself came to a positively complimentary conclusion:

"The facility is clean, safe and adequate at this time for its purpose and . . . it is administrated by a dedicated, efficient and highly professional staff," the grand jury found.

While it does not appear to be entirely common for an Oregon Sheriff's office to trumpet the results of a grand jury inspection, Oregon law does mandate the practice of yearly inspections by a grand jury of local correctional facilities, as published in a similar, if much more complex report from Multnomah County in 2018:

"At least once yearly, a Corrections Grand Jury shall inquire into the condition and management of every correctional facility and youth correction facility," the law states. "The Corrections Grand Jury is entitled to free access at all reasonable times to such correctional facilities and juvenile facilities, and, without charge, to all public records in the country pertaining thereto."

The Josephine County grand jury's report highlighted newly-installed technology at the adult jail — a camera system "that improves picture fidelity and helps to eliminate blind spots throughout the jail," and a new body scanner machine "that can detect contraband within the human body."

"Funding for the cameras and the B-Scan machine was provided by the inmate population and not the residents of Josephine County," the grand jury reported.

The grand jury noted that inmates were allowed access to a law library, an exercise yard, and means for communicating with family and friends through video, phone and text message. There were also facilities for mental health counseling and drug treatment therapy.

"The Sheriff expressed interest in a dog-therapy program which he says could assist inmates in maintaining a calm demeanor and could supplement existing therapy programs," the report said.

During the inspection, the grand jury noted that the jail held its maximum capacity of 185 inmates. According to the report, Sheriff Daniel "expressed concern" that the jail's limited capacity would soon become an issue — as it has been for the Jackson County Jail in recent years.

Aside from this acknowledgement, the grand jury report did not seem to identify any negative aspects to conditions at the jail facility or areas marked for improvement. It did note that there were five "inmate on guard assaults and 20+ inmate on inmate assaults" during 2018.

"All of the inmates that we encountered during the inspection appeared to be behaving with appropriate demeanor," the report said. "Their uniforms were clean and there were no inmate disturbances during the inspection."

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