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LA County jails have an open door policy

09/09/2013

LA County jails have an open door policy

Many employers maintain some sort of "open door" policy. Whether that means your direct supervisor will set aside whatever tasks they have planned for the day to sit down and talk to you, or the owner of the company will make themselves available to you, the policies are meant to convey caring and transparency. They basically say "I care about you," and "I have nothing to hide."

But who would have thought to have such a policy in a jail? The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department implements such an "open door" policy within its jails, and it's not for the employees. In an attempt to communicate caring and establish an environment of transparency, the department has started to have "town hall meetings" for the inmates in each housing location.

This allows each and every inmate to voice their opinion about the service they get, and ask questions about their stay in the jail. But the most truly unique aspect of this new policy the Sheriff's Department is implementing is that the meetings are with the unit commanders themselves. Occasionally, the unit commander will have a designee fill in for them, but it is always a supervisor with the authority to solve whatever problems they encounter.

The following quotes are taken directly from the manual on town hall meetings:

"The purpose of this section is to initiate an open dialogue with the individuals housed in the Sheriff's Department custody facilities. The goal is to enhance the quality of life in their community, while maintaining a safe and secure working and learning environment for the personnel assigned to each facility."

"Every facility is required to conduct a town hall meeting for each housing area at least once a month. For larger custody facilities, it is suggested that daily town hall meetings are held in order to meet this mandate."

"Prior to the commencement of a town hall meeting, the Rehabilitation Survey shall be provided to each inmate in attendance. The inmates completing the form may remain anonymous, and the survey shall be collected by the staff at the end of each meeting. If there are specific complaints regarding a quality of life issue, they must be entered into the Town Hall Meeting Tracker."

"The Town Hall Meeting Form was created to capture the inmates' concerns and suggestions dealing with quality of life issues in their custodial environment. Issues derived from the Town Hall meetings shall be entered into the Town Hall Meeting Tracker and addressed within seven days from the date of the meeting. If additional time is required, a new deadline should be established with a detailed explanation."

"In an effort to ensure all inmates are afforded the opportunity to participate in a town hall meeting, the unit commander or their designee shall monitor the housing locations. They shall ensure inmates are free from intimidation or coercion from other inmates, and that their personnel are conducting themselves in a professional manner as reflected in the Core Values."








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