Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Sheriff’s Office Changes Midnight Release Policies; Mental Health Screenings, Call to Friends and Family Now Standard Procedure.

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office: - Hank Sims/Lost Coast Outpost
You Can Now Stay in Jail Until Dawn - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Journal
Following public meetings and the sheriff’s scrutiny of jail policies, Sheriff Mike Downey announced changes that he thinks will “assist with making the community safer, while still complying with the law and United States Constitution,” according to a press release.
Changes in late nightime releases by Sheriff Downey - John Chiv/Words Worth
New Jail Inmate Release Policy - Mad River Union
New inmate release policy for jail Times-Standard

After attending community forums and speaking with the Humboldt County Chiefs of Police, County Counsel and Humboldt County Mental Health, Humboldt County Sheriff Michael Downey has implemented a Pre-Release Verification Form, along with other changes regarding nighttime releases.

The new Humboldt County Correctional Facility policy became effective on March 17, 2014. Since enacting this new policy, Correctional Officers will now conduct a documented exit interview. The exit interview form requires officers to ask inmates being released a series of questions and to document and observe the inmate for signs of being under the influence or having mental health issues. If the inmate displayed signs of being a danger to others, a danger to themselves or being gravely disabled, a mental health hold could be placed on the inmate per 5150 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. The releasing officer is also required to ask the inmate if they would like to speak with a mental health professional or like a courtesy ride to mental health.

If the inmate is being released between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., the releasing Correctional Officer will offer to contact a friend or relative by phone to see if they can pick up or assist the inmate with going home. They will also offer to call a cab for the inmate (at the inmates expense), or the inmate can voluntarily stay in custody until daylight.

Since implementing this new policy, Correctional Staff estimates three to five inmates a week have chosen to take advantage of staying in custody until daylight.

Other changes that have occurred with the implementation of the new policy are those inmates that are being detained for short periods of time, such as public intoxication, will no longer have any cash in their possession deposited in the jails account. In the past the inmate’s cash would be deposited in a jail account and when the inmate was released, they would be provided a check. If the inmate was released at night, they would have difficulty turning the check into cash to pay for a cab or other transportation. Now the inmate’s cash when they are booked will counted and placed in a sealed envelope. Upon the inmate’s release the cash is returned to the inmate.

Sheriff Downey believes these changes will assist with making the community safer, while still complying with the law and United States Constitution.


Love Sheriff Downey. Good move.


  1. But Rose, Maggie Fleming did not have a problem with the midnight releases.

    At the the Tea Party Debate, she said: They have a warm place and a bathroom!

    Now Sheriff Downey, one of her endorsers, listened to the public and not Maggie Fleming! the DA Incarnate! according to her supporters.

  2. Downey listens. And he understands the basic humanity in this new policy, simple human courtesy. Not to leave people out in the cold, in the dark of night, when nothing is open, and no buses are running, and there's nowhere to go.... not all people who are arrested are killers, just think how you'd feel if thrust out onto the street?

    He made the right - human - call.

  3. People need to support Mike by writing to their legislators to pass the Liu bill on these releases. It will only help with the situation.

  4. People need to support Mike by writing to their legislators to pass the Liu bill on these releases. It will only help with the situation.

  5. Hi Rose,
    Will follow your example and try to correct the record, though still too timid to post my name, given the continuing hatefulness and distortions. What Ms Fleming said in the debates was that while she was also in favor of revising policies to help people released at night, outright banning of night releases was not legal- you can't keep someone in jail past the legal requirement time. And she made one other point, that people were not being kicked out onto the street in the cold, dark, and wet, as some had accused the sheriff of doing.
    It sounds like the new policy lets them voluntarily stay in the jail cell instead of the lobby. But it is their choice.
    Per the NCJ article of 1/30/14: "Downey said anyone released from jail is welcome to use the phone and wait in the lobby until
    morning, when buses start running and services and businesses reopen. But, he said, the jail
    can't compel anyone to do that.
    Karen "Fox" Olson, the executive director of the Arcata House Partnership, said that is a nice —
    but unrealistic — offer. 'There's no one that's going to want to stay around jail longer than they
    have to. It's problematic, but once people are given the green light they want to get out of there.'"

  6. Anyone with any respect for civil rights and any understanding of the law knows that if a person is in jail, but is not charged with a crime and is not incapacitated, they simply must be let go.

    That seems so obvious it's a little scary that there is a debate about it. It's also a little scary that people want other people held in jail with no basis for holding them. This is Humboldt, not Guantanamo.

  7. Except that if you are arrested for any Felony or Misdemeanor the time limit is 48 hours. Look it up in the Penal Code. 825. You either know this and are trolling, or you are ignorant and are buying the lies on this issue.


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