Napa Inmates Transferred Following Earthquake

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. — Following the Aug. 24 earthquake that damaged hundreds of Napa County buildings, the county’s Department of Corrections has obtained a court order allowing the transfer of some of inmates from the impacted jail to nearby facilities.

Approximately 60 male and 20 female inmates will be transferred to the Solano County Jail and the Fairfield County Jail, respectively. The transfer is necessary for the ongoing safety of inmates and staff, according to a statement issued by the department.

“The safety of our staff and inmates has always been and remains our top priority,” said Lenard Vare, director of corrections. “Non-structural damage sustained from the earthquake has created safety concerns and requires the movement of inmates from certain areas of the facility in order for the county to properly assess necessary repairs.”

The Napa County Hall of Justice and Jail Facility was inspected following the 6.0 earthquake, and the entire building was deemed structurally sound, according to the statement. The facility was then “yellow tagged,” denoting that the damage sustained was generally superficial. Meanwhile use of the building has been restricted to correctional purposes only pending non-structural repairs, which will begin after the inmate transfer. The building will remain closed to the public, and Napa County Jail inmates will only be able to receive visits via video visitation.

Speaking with the Times-Herald two days after the quake, Vare assured the community that the jail was operating safely.

"The department continues to provide services that meet required standards for jail operations. Inmates are receiving meals, access to showers and medical and mental health services," Vare said. "The telephone system is in service and inmates are able to reach their loved ones. The safety of staff and inmates is the department’s top priority."

Despite the move, the department will continue to accept new bookings and is working closely with officials at the Board of State and Community Corrections to ensure compliance with state regulations.

Inclement weather has forced the transfer of hundreds of inmates in recent years. A tornado that damaged multiple housing units, as well as perimeter fencing, at the Limestone Correctional Facility in Capshaw, Ala. in 2012 necessitated the redistribution of 200 inmates to nearby facilities. Later that same year nearly 80 inmates were transferred from a Dixon, Ill. prison to a maximum-security facility in Pontiac as the result of storm damage.