On June 3rd, Mike Downey was re-elected to Sheriff after running unopposed, with 98% of those who voted approving of him for another 4 years.
Yesterday, reports from the Times-Standard and Lost Coast Outpost detailed what we might be dealing with during Downey’s term. According to the reports, Larry Gene Blake and Alfonso Yanez-Espana were arrested for drug related charges, including possession of Methamphetamine for sale. Yanez-Espana allegedly had a kilo (2.2 lbs) of meth and $35,000 in cash in his possession. Both were transported to the County Jail where they were booked and released to to “overcrowding”.
That’s right, folks. In today’s Humboldt you can possess kilo sized quantities of Methamphetamine and not have to worry about being lodged in the jail or having to bail out. But why?
According to the Sheriff’s Office, when the jail hit’s “a certain number” then they use a matrix to determine who will stay in jail, and who will go. Apparently, selling pounds of meth doesn’t get a suspect held. What is that “certain number”? Sheriff Downey didn’t say. However, the Examiner received inside information that the jail has two types of “maximum” capacity. The first type is the “hard maximum”, which basically means that by law and physical layout the jail can’t hold any more suspects. The second is a “soft maximum”, which is the point in which all the beds are filled, but there would be room to put out numerous beds on the floor inside the dormitories to hold more suspects (each dorm can put out a number of these “boats”, but they rarely, if ever do).
According to the source, most suspects are released when the jail is at the “soft maximum” level, meaning that they could have been held if the HCSO wanted to. We don’t know whether that was the case with Yanez-Espana, but it’s a question that should be answered by Downey.
According to the Times-Standard, Correctional Officer Tom Wattle said that Yanez-Espana and Blake’s charges were “misdemeanors” and their was no room to hold “misdemeanors”. That is an outright lie. They were both arrested for felonies according to the Sheriffs own booking sheet which is published online.
Lt. Dean Flint from the jail went a step further. According to him, if “we have a possession charge and a rape charge, we don’t want to have to question who to choose”. Sounds fair enough. There must have been people charged with rape entering the jail that day, right? Wrong, according to the booking sheet for 06/05.
Obviously the Jail must be full (or what they like to call full) of dangerous criminals, especially violent felons and rapists. We looked at the daily roster for 06/05, and found the following “serious” criminals taking up the space that these Meth dealers could have been placed into:
ANGHILANTE, PAUL JOSEPH-Theft and Marijuana related charges. In jail since May 30th.
BASZLER, KENNETH ELDOR-Sentenced to 22 days for Probation Violation and driving with a suspended D.L.
BECKER, DAKOTA REED-Theft and Trespassing charges. In jail since May 25th.
BRANNON, TYREL GERRAD-CDC prisoner and witness in Humboldt Case. In since May 1st.
We decided to stop writing names after “B”. But we encourage Examiner readers to go to this link to find out more information, especially regarding who is released back into the community after being arrested for serious charges: http://co.humboldt.ca.us/sheriff/reports/.
As you look at the list, you see several suspects who are in jail with pending charges for theft related offenses. You’ll also notice that there are folks serving out short jail sentences for driving without a valid license. Where is the common sense? How can it be that someone whose stealing to support an addiction is more “jail worthy” than somebody selling kilo sized amounts of a dangerous drug like meth?
We know the system is hemorrhaging due to the amount of crime in this county, mixed with the states
re-alignment of prisoners. Sheriff Downey and the Board of Supervisor’s know this as well. So…..when are they going to do something about it? The Examiner hasn’t heard any solutions being offered, just a lot of excuses.
Sheriff Downey and the BOS, the hand wringing needs to stop. It’s time to solicit ideas and come up with some solutions. Otherwise, this really will end up being the lawless County of Humboldt.