Stanislaus County has launched a $113 million construction program to add 480 jail beds and a re-entry center.
It is the largest capital project in county history. The jail expansion includes a medical and mental health wing, The Modesto Bee reported.
“It is good for jobs and the builders, but the outcome of jail expansion has been nothing but failure,” said Vonya Quarles, an organizer for All of Us or None. She has organized rallies against jail expansion in Riverside County.
“It costs $52,000 a year to put someone in county jail. That would be better spent on mental health services, substance-abuse treatment or early education,” Quarles told The Bee.
As part of Realignment, the state awarded $80 million for jail expansion and $40 million for the re-entry center in Modesto.
Patty Hill Thomas, the county’s chief operating officer, expects construction work to start in September and be completed in late 2016.
“It is goodfor jobs and the builders, but the outcome of jail expansion has been nothing but failure”
The state’s jail construction financing program coincides with the public safety Realignment program passed by the California Legislature. It had been proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in response to court orders to reduce prison overcrowding. It keeps some lower-level prisoners in county custody, instead of locking them up in state prison.
The county will cap the current expansion with 288 beds of transition jail housing in the new re-entry facility, which will have classrooms and resources for inmates who are within a year of release.
The new jail beds will allow the antiquated men’s jail in downtown Modesto to be emptied, the newspaper reported.
Jill Silva, chief probation officer, said at an Aug. 15 kickoff ceremony that programs are changing the lives of criminal offenders. The new jail facilities will come with services for those struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse and addiction.
Hensel Phelps of San Jose will construct the maximum-security units and support facilities under contracts totaling $82.6 million. The county awarded a $4.4 million contract for Simile Construction of Modesto to build the probation reporting center.