By Lorri Ooley
At a press conference held Tuesday, Oct. 28, Sierra County Manager Bruce Swingle announced that as of 4 p.m. that day, the Sierra County Detention Center would be indefinitely closed.
Swingle expressed regret on behalf of the county’s office. He, however, stressed the necessity for the closure, highlighting recent legal allegations, as well as continued concerns over the safety of both detention officers and detainees.
In light of recent reports from Detention Center Administrator Virginia Lee, this announcement was unexpected. However, Swingle clarified to The Herald the decision of withholding the release of impending closure was done solely for the safety of both county personnel and inmates. However, both Lee and Sierra County Commissioners were, from Swingle’s office, well informed of the decisions and actions for closure.
Additionally, previous reports from the detention facility, given to the commissioners during a special meeting held on Wednesday, Oct. 22, does not reflect a lack of transparent communication between county departments to its commissioners. Lee’s report was accurate in reflecting the recent alterations and improvements occurring; however, those alterations and improvements did not address the continued issues, which ultimately led to the decision for closure.
Swingle expressed to The Herald on Monday, Nov. 3, that Lee’s contract would continue. Of which, her duties were not being drastically altered. She will continue to oversee the intake, processing, and continued administration of arrestees and inmates. As such, her salary will be maintained.
Additionally, 12 detention officers were relieved of their duties.
Swingle stated that supervisors and officers with sonority were retained, which was decided through policy rather than reflective of performance, misconduct, or personnel investigation.
The closure has thus far been met with understanding from both the Magistrate and District courts, as the county implements its policy for transporting arrests to the Luna County Jail.
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