Alameda County Sheriff

Alameda County Sheriff's Office Accused Of Serious Misconduct

Holly Quan
August 21, 2018 - 9:24 am

(KCBS Radio) —The Alameda County sheriff's department has been hit with revelations of a range of misbehavior by on-duty guards. 

In one case, a guard with 20 years of experience admitted that  he had secretly recorded a juvenile inmate's confidential conversation with a lawyer. Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit against the department alleges that a pregnant inmate gave birth in her cell because jail workers didn't believe that she was in labor. 

The potentially illegal recording of the conversation between the inmate and attorney took place at the Eden Township Substation in San Leandro. The existence of the recording was revealed in court documents on Monday from the Alameda County public defender's office. The San Francisco Chronicle published body camera footage that shows a sergeant acknowledging that he's taped conversations between inmates and their attorneys since January. 

Lawyers and their clients have a right to conduct their discussions in private. 

Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for Sheriff Gregory Ahern, acknolwedged that the recording violated attorney-client privilege. 

The district attorney's office has since tossed the case against the juvenile and announced that it will review every juvenile criminal case brought by the sheriff's office this year. 

Ahern and his office also confronted a federal lawsuit filed on Monday accusing them of "barbaric conduct" in the treatment of the inmate who gave birth. 

Candace Steel was eight-months pregnant when authorities booked her into the Santa Rita jail on misdemeanor charges in July 2017. She relayed information to officials that showed she was at higher risk of an early delivery, including her use of alcohol and drugs, and complications during a previous pregnancy, according to the complaint. 

Two days later, she showed signs that she'd gone into labor, but, according to her lawsuit, officials put her in solitary confinement, because they didn't believe her. 

Alone in her cell, Steel delivered the baby who survived. The sound of the baby crying finally attracted the guards' attention, the suit said. 

The lawsuit named the jail's healthcare provider, California Forensic Medical Group, as a defendant too.