As it goes through another fiscal year of declining revenue, the Board of Supervisors must decide whether to spend money to improve the way the county incarcerates women and juveniles, delay jail expansion plans or abandon them altogether.
County officials will give an update today on a proposal to replace the overcrowded women’s jail and will follow that with a presentation on whether to fix up an aging Juvenile Services Center.
Overcrowding has prodded the plan to expand the women’s jail. It has a rated capacity for 43 inmates. But between the 2007 and 2009 fiscal years, the population averaged 73, according to a report to the supervisors from administrative analyst Vince Morici and Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Rob Reid.
Augmenting the jail could boost capacity to as many as 155 beds, which would alleviate overcrowding and provide for future needs, Morici and Reid wrote. It also would provide medical help for inmates and improve security.
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Expansion could include a new medical facility, as well as an expanded and remodeled intake-reception center.
The county applied and qualified for $25 million in state funding and began design work. However, county administrators have put that on hold and are seeking direction from supervisors on whether and how to proceed.
Morici and Reid warn that timing is important, insofar as the county’s ability to receive state money is concerned.
“It is unlikely that this funding opportunity will occur again in the next two or more decades,” according to their report.
Should everything go forward, the county would incur an annual ongoing cost of $1.6 million to run the new jail, according to the staff estimate.
The Juvenile Services Center does not have the serious overcrowding problem the women’s jail has. It has 45 inmates and will need room for 50 by 2023, according to a report from Morici and Chief Deputy Probation Officer Ed Liebscher.
The juvenile center has been in use since 1981, and county officials would like to expand it by creating a 20-bed, high-security wing, and convert 15 existing low-security beds into a treatment center for juveniles.
Should it go forward as suggested, the expansion would leave the county with 50 detention beds for juveniles and 15 additional beds in a treatment facility, for a total of 65.
The current juvenile hall “does not allow the county to provide treatment for minors who require treatment in a secure setting, nor does it contain any high-security rooms,” Liebscher and Morici wrote.