Nevada County jail study continues despite funding unknowns
Sun News Service
GRASS VALLEY, Calif. and#8212; Even though it is unclear how the county would pay tens of millions of dollars to expand the jail, supervisors gave the go-ahead to a San Francisco architect to complete a study on the project.
So far, the cost to build a new housing area, a new visiting unit, an expanded medical facility and a new dispatch center will run about $19 million and#8212; $5 million above original estimates.
That doesn’t include the cost of additional space for staff, administration and booking.
With sales tax dollars dwindling and the state threatening to grab money from counties, District 1 Supervisor Nate Beason wondered aloud how the county would finance the project.
and#8220;I’m having sticker shock. Where do we get the money to pay for this?and#8221; Beason said at Tuesday’s meeting.
But supervisors gave Beverly Prior Architects consent to move forward.
Recognizing the uncertainty of county finances, Sheriff Keith Royal said some expansion can wait, but more beds are needed to avoid overcrowding and potential lawsuits.
While not at maximum levels, there have been times when the number of people housed at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility exceeded thresholds set by the California Board of Corrections.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to release 40,000 to 50,000 state prisoners. Up to 75 percent of them are expected to commit crimes again, Royal said and#8212; sending an estimated 25 additional inmates each year to the county jail, Royal said.
Already the jail is co-mingling women and men inmates in its day-use areas. Sometimes, medium and maximum security women inmates are housed with minimum security offenders, Royal said.
In addition, and#8220;more and more women are committing crimes,and#8221; he said.
Plans to expand the jail include increasing medium and maximum security beds for women from 8 to 70.
In addition, the county has a contract with the U.S. Marshal and is housing 65 federal prisoners, an agreement expected to generate $1.5 million for the Sheriff’s Office this year. Of those prisoners, 40 are women.
Architects will complete their feasibility study and analyze all the costs to do the work and come back before the board this fall.
If approved, design of the project would begin in 2010; construction would start in 2011 and be completed in 2012.
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