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Jail expansion approved

Board of Supervisors approves nearly $16 million expansion project
More than $15 million to be spent on new jail expansion.
More than $15 million to be spent on new jail expansion that will increase the number of beds by 72..

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 20 unanimously voted to approve a jail construction agreement that will build a 24,000-square-foot medium security facility on 2.6 acres of a 21-acre site owned by the county on Flynn Road, inside the city limits of Hollister. 

Most of the money for the nearly $16 million project will come from the state through Assembly Bill 900, or the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007, which authorized up to $1.2 billion in two phases for county jail construction throughout the state. The State of California will provide financing for the project up to a maximum of $15,053,000, with matching county cash funds of $60,000 and an in-kind match of $733,000, totaling $15,856,000.

The new facility, which is tentatively scheduled to open between May 30 and Aug. 25, 2017, is designed to provide approximately 72 beds and will include housing, program, medical, custody, and administrative space. The new building will be dependent on the existing detention facility for several core operational components, including food and laundry services.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho asked Brent Barnes-- director of the Resource Management Agency that designed the project -- if the county has any flexibility regarding the timeline for the facility.

“The state said there is some flexibility, but I don’t have anything in writing on that yet,” Barnes said. “We’re working now with the state on the lease documents, so when that comes back to the board, I want to have a revised timeline for you.”

Botelho expressed concern about time restrictions associated with the project and asked Barnes to be sure to get it in writing from the state.

“We don’t want to lose this opportunity because it’s a big deal for us,” Botelho said.

Barnes assured the Board that the state has explained it to him that the program has been amended a couple of times regarding timelines and local matching funds.

“Just because of the challenges of some of the smaller counties are having, so the state is taking a little bit more of a flexible approach,” he said.

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About:
John Chadwell (John Chadwell)

John Chadwell is an investigative reporter for BenitoLink. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: johnchadwell@benitolink.com.

Comments

Submitted by (Luis Burguillo) on

After seating through the LDS issues conference this past Wednesday and listening to local leaders and answer questions important to the residents of San Benito County and City of Hollister, I am taken aback by our county supervisors decision to provide much hard to-come-by tax dollars to expand lock-up space at the county jail.

Especially, when the two political leaders at the LDS issues conference spoke and called for other more urgent issues and problems areas needing immediate attention and expenditure - such as: youth after school programs; music and art programs which has been proven to prevent gang involvement, or fixing our city and county dreaded roads roads, and make our county library a 21st century library for the most who need and use its services.

Some how what Mayor Ignacio and Supervisor Margie Barrios stated at the conference go in direct contradiction to Supervisors Barrios support for what she stated and her support for an extension to the county's jail.

With city, county and national crime statistics at historical lows (FBI 2014 National Crime Report and Hollister Police department's officials statistics: city violent crime dropped 24%) why are our city and county political officials supporting such wasteful and unnecessary expenditures to continue the failed policy of mass incarceration of predominantly Latino youth. this mass incarceration is the new 21st century Jim crow, preventing the participation of our youth in civics - especially voting for elected officials who are in really in touch with their constituents needs.

Moreover, in light of California Proposition 47, and the expectation that the county jail population is expected to be "greatly reduced" as a result, why are county supervisors wasting limited funds on a jail extension and not on more important matters important to residents and their quality of life in the county?

Community Services Workforce Development's picture

Luis, thanks for your input. I believe when you say, "LDS Conference" you are referring to the Community Matters Leadership Luncheon which was sponsored by the Community Action Board (CAB) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Although you have valid points about the issues discussed at the luncheon:

"youth after school programs; music and art programs which has been proven to prevent gang involvement, or fixing our city and county dreaded roads roads, and make our county library a 21st century library for the most who need and use its services."

Unfortunately, the funding discussed in this article can't be utilized for the projects discussed at the luncheon:They have been earmarked specifically for the jail expansion.  

Although I do not have the exact figures, the majority (perhaps all) of the county jail expansion is being funded as a adjunct of AB 109. That is the program whereby the state will incarcerate less people in state prison and more in county jails.  It's an attempt to run the penal system for less money, that's really all it is.

The state has been under court order to reduce overcrowding in state prisons and they cannot find the money or locations (due to community push-back) to build and staff new prisons and they do not want to the take the political heat of just opening the doors and letting the prisoners go.

Their "solution" was to bribe counties to take the prisoners back or keep them at the county level - and counties such as ours always  have their hands out.  By my calculation is is now costing more than $61,000 a year to incarcerate someone in state prison.

I fear this program is an enormous bait and switch. it looks good for the initial 5 to 10 years, but one has to realize that an huge part of the cost of incarceration has been medical care, especially for mental problems and an aging prison/jail population.

Counties, such as San Benito, do not have the infrastructure to handle many of the medical issues and that will run the cost evn higher because they will have a lot of overhead with the smaller jail population compared to state prisons.  A large prison  can have a dedicated medical staff and although they are very well paid, having the care available in the prison is very low overhead. 

When the subsidies dry up, our system is likely to die the death of a thousand cuts from these operating costs, especially medical costs.

I am disappointed that so few people in the community are unfamiliar with AB 109 and of recent laws the will significantly change so many aspects of the criminal justice and penal systems, some for the better and some for the worse. Mark my words, when the impacts really hit we will be hearing a lot from the public on all sides of the issues.

Marty Richman

 

Submitted by Joe Nehls on

AB 109 and subsequent legislation (e.g., AB 117 and AB 118) were primarily the result of federal court rulings mandating that California reduce prison overcrowding by specific benchmarks. In 2011, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling in Brown v. Plata that California’s prisons were so overcrowded that the provision of medical and mental health care was inadequate to the point of being unconstitutional. The Court upheld an earlier order by a three-judge federal court panel that California must decrease its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity within two years. Based on prison capacity at the time of the original court order, this meant a reduction of the prison population from approximately 150,000 inmates to 110,000.

Noteworthy is the fact that no inmates currently in state prison will be transferred to county jails or released early.

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