SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – A plan will be presented tomorrow to the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors proposing the construction of a New Jail Replacement Facility.
When the Board last approved the proposed plan on February 23, 2016, the project was a 7-story, 219,000 square feet facility located on the corner of West Hedding and N. San Pedro Streets, in San Jose. Since then, the Board approved a number of jail diversion and bail reform initiatives that led to a reduction in the current number of inmates.
“The current Jail Replacement Project takes into account significant Board and community input over the last few years, in addition to input from experts who have been assisting the County in reviewing the jail system,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, Chair of the Public Safety and Justice Committee for the County of Santa Clara. He added that, “this new jail is a critical component of the County’s jail reform efforts.”
In light of the decreasing jail population, the County Executive’s Office commissioned a study to revalidate the number of beds needed for the new facility. In addition, the Facilities and Fleet Department and the Sheriff’s Office assessed the current jail buildings to determine their useful life, and to evaluate if they offer sufficient and appropriate space to house and rehabilitate the inmates.
“Currently, few housing units have the programming and treatment space that will be needed for correctional facilities of the future,” pointed out County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. He explained that, “the proposed building will provide inmate program space that largely does not exist currently at Main Jail South. Each floor in the new facility will have three housing units with treatment and program space to serve the entire inmate population on each floor, as well as the space necessary for out-of-cell time.”
For those goals to be accomplished, the Board of Supervisors needs to approve a modified proposal for the New Jail facility that would:
- Demolish the existing Main Jail South and build the New Jail on the same site;
- Reduce the total number of beds for the proposed facility from 815 to 535. This represents a total decrease of 212 rated beds systemwide;
- Increase the square footage by 24,000 square feet (from 219,000 to 243,000 sq. ft.);
- Replace existing office space that currently exists on the Main Jail South site that will be lost when the building is demolished, and add office space that is needed for the additional services provided by the Sheriff’s Office/Department of Correction and Custody Health Services.
“These recommended changes would increase the cost of the initial proposal by 6% ($14 million) and provide a jail with fewer beds and more square footage, that is a safer facility for staff and inmates, and is designed based on best practices,” said Deputy County Executive Martha Wapenski, who leads the County of Santa Clara’s New Jail Facility Replacement project. “These best practices include more single cells for the mentally ill population, larger dayrooms for classes and programs, and larger recreation yards,” she added.
The County of Santa Clara received $80 million in SB 863 bond funding from the State of California to finance the construction of a new jail. The net cost to the County to build the New Jail facility is projected to be $257 million. This is money well spent, asserts the Director of Custody Health and Custody Behavioral Health Services, Matt Gerrior. “I’m looking forward to it because it gives us the ability to provide more integrated behavioral health and medical services in a more consolidated fashion. The New Jail takes several pieces that we’ve been working on to try to provide more efficient and more comprehensive services all in one area, so there will be less need for transportation of the inmates back and forth between all the facilities.”
The New Jail would include mental health treatment housing with dedicated classroom and treatment space. It would also offer (under one roof) clinic space for dental, optometry, physical therapy, pre- and post- operative treatment, and kidney dialysis.
At a recent public meeting to discuss the plans for building a New Jail facility, community leaders and advocates expressed their optimism towards the project. “If we have to have a new jail, it’s moving in the right direction,” said PACT’s Ron Hansen, who commended the plan for including a facility with more natural light and areas where the inmates can spend out-of-cell time.
Silicon Valley’s DeBug Community Organizer, José Valle, who works directly with the jail population and their families, expressed a desire to see improvements in the housing of maximum security detainees – something that is not included in the New Jail facility. “Putting that aside,” said Valle, “the new facility looks to be on the good side as far as prison reform.”
Community advocate Christine Clifford, who works with Silicon Valley’s Debug and PACT, added, “I am very pleased to see that there is a reduction in beds from the original plan, and an increase in space for programming, medical facilities and attention to people who are coming back to the community after being incarcerated.”
The New Jail facility plan includes community classrooms on all floors and a floor dedicated to intensified Reentry Services for male and female inmates who have 90 days or less remaining in custody. “The facility as a whole remains focused on reentry, to ensure that inmates will have the treatment, programming and discharge planning needed for successful reintegration into the community,” said Tony Filice, Project Lead for the New Jail.
For additional information on the New Jail Replacement Facility Proposal, you can attend the Board of Supervisors Meeting on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018, or visit the website www.sccgov.org/newmainjail. The discussion of this item on the agenda will begin at 10:30am in the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors Chambers, located at 70 W. Hedding Street, in San Jose.
About the County of Santa Clara, California
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents. With a $6.5 billion annual budget, dozens of offices/departments, and over 18,000 employees, the County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many others, particularly for those in the greatest need. The County is the most populous in Northern California.
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Media Contact: María Leticia Gómez/Laurel Anderson, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119.
Posted: January 22, 2018