County board approves sheriff’s and corrections reunification
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The Madera County Department of Corrections, which oversees the Madera County Jail, and the Madera County Sheriff’s Department have announced a reunification that was approved unanimously by the Madera County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday.
The Madera County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve the reunification of the Madera Department of Corrections and the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.
The Reunification Plan was developed collaboratively by administrative representatives from both the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Corrections. The proposed plan will be implemented in phases, and will conclude by consolidating the Madera County Department of Corrections with the Sheriff’s Office and officially transferring oversight and management of county jail operations to the elected Sheriff. The plan was approved at the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
“It was a culmination of factors,” said Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue. “No. 1, it is the best practice of the county jail to be run by the sheriff. It’s one of the main functions of a county sheriff. To have a law enforcement-type department run by the Board of Supervisors is not in the best practice. We were looking at what is best for law enforcement, rehabilitation and housing of custodial inmates. As Madera County continues to expand, as well as prison reform where they are sending people to county jail rather than state prisons, Madera is housing more and more dangerous criminals or sophisticated inmates than they have had at any other point. It puts a fairly large strain on that group of people. Not to mention, there are a bunch of efficiency issues when you combine the two departments. For example, we are getting ready to transfer a large number of inmates from our facility to the state. It’s a fairly large transfer. That takes a significant amount of personnel to get that done. Where before corrections would have to pull people from everywhere to get this done, we’re able to reach out and make it happen now that we’re a combined force. It comes to the growth of the county, prison reform and the increase in the sophistication of housing inmates, it was basically decided that was best for the county, inmates and employees involved.
The Madera County Department of Corrections was established in 1977 when it was created as a separate department from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office. At present, Madera County is one of only two county jail operations in the state that is not under the purview of a county sheriff.
“We were tasked with coming up with a unification plan,” Pogue said. “We spent a significant amount of time discussing any and all options. We presented our best option to the board. We had unanimous support from the board and also the department of corrections, the sheriff’s office, as well as county administration. Everybody was on board to make this happen. In the past, there was always one section not willing or ready to make that change.”
With the projected growth of the county and the impacts to the county jail from prison reform, the Sheriff, Corrections Director and the County Administrative Officer support the reunification of jail operations under the supervision of the Sheriff.
“The Reunification of the Sheriff’s Office and Department of Corrections is an incredible opportunity to improve services and efficacy by modernizing practices to better serve our community,” Pogue said. “By following the model of county law enforcement agencies throughout the state, we are positioning Madera County for future growth and success. We anticipate a seamless transition as we collaboratively implement reunification guidelines, with safety and efficiency as our focus.”
“Madera County Department of Corrections is looking forward to the exciting opportunities gained through the reunification between the Madera Sheriff’s Office and the Madera County Department of Corrections,” said Department of Corrections Chief Manuel Perez. “We anticipate a smooth implementation of this expanded partnership as the jail transfers leadership to Sheriff Tyson Pogue. This collaborative transition will allow us to more effectively leverage our services and support to better serve the jail population and the people of Madera County.”
With the merger of the two departments, for the first time in recent memory, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office will create an assistant sheriff position whose main job will be the day-to-day operations of the custodial facility.
“As far I know, we’ve never had an assistant sheriff position,” Pogue said. “We called it a reunification so that we merged the two departments. We essentially merged. The department of corrections will become a division in the sheriff’s department.”
Pogue reinforced that the reunification happened at the support of everyone involved from the Madera County Department of Corrections to the Madera County Board of Supervisors to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office and the Madera County Administration office.
“The important point for this was overwhelming unanimous support from everyone,” Pogue said. “They were all on board to make this happen. We did not lay off any employees. We did everything we could to maintain the continuity of operations at the jail. Our goal was to not disrupt the day-to-day operations of what makes the facility run.”
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Additional reporting by Tyler A. Takeda of The Madera Tribune