Stanislaus inmate crews lighten blight on roads, rivers

kcarlson@modbee.comAugust 6, 2013 

    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken

— For some jail inmates, public safety realignment means they're out cleaning illegal dump sites along roads and waterways in Stanislaus County.

Sheriff Adam Christianson delivered an annual report on the cleanup work Tuesday, telling county supervisors that inmate crews cleared garbage from more than 2,100 sites in the past year. The haul included 236 tons of trash and almost 1,600 discarded tires.

The crews abated trash-strewn homeless camps that pollute the Tuolumne River, maintained parks in Riverbank and cleaned blighted public areas. Christianson said realignment funds from the state bought the equipment for the cleanup program.

In the past year, the inmates went through 1,600 gallons of paint to cover graffiti.

During the recession, the Sheriff's Department sharply cut back on the crews when cities and county public works dropped their contracts for inmate labor. Realignment provided more funding to the county, allowing the sheriff to redeploy inmate crews for cleanup work soon after realignment went into effect in October 2011, Christianson said.

Statewide realignment made counties responsible for low-level offenders who are released from prison and adults who are newly convicted of nonviolent crimes.

The Sheriff's Department has two inmate crews working on roadside cleanup every month, with one deputy supervising 12 inmates. Christianson said he plans two additional crews, but first needs to fill staff positions to supervise the workers.

There's concern that the more extensive cleanup program will create the impression that illegal dumping of trash, tires and furniture is tolerated. But the sheriff stressed that violators will be cited and prosecuted.

More health funding

In another item Tuesday, county leaders approved a fund transfer that's expected to net $1.2 million in federal funding for the Health Services Agency. The agency will send $1.42 million of its general fund allocation to the state, which then will pull down $1.487 million in federal Medicaid dollars.

The county contribution and the federal funds will come back as increased payments to the Health Net managed care plan that serves tens of thousands of Medi-Cal recipients in Stanislaus County. The funding will pay for health care serv-ices in the county's specialty care and rehabilitation clinics, a report says.

To cover the costs of administration, the California Department of Health Care Services will receive $283,000 and Health Net will keep $59,500.

Supervisors also approved a raise for Assistant Executive Officer Stan Risen, who will serve as interim county CEO after Monica Nino leaves to become the top administrator for San Joaquin County. Nino's last day is Aug. 16.

During the recruitment for a new CEO, Risen will be paid $17,456 a month, or the same as Nino's salary of $209,500 per year. He currently earns $182,740 per year. Risen is expected to be a candidate for CEO.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321.

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