A state panel awarded San Joaquin County more than $30 million to build a new, higher-security facility to replace the county jail’s honor farm on Thursday.
During a meeting in Los Angeles, the Board of State and Community Corrections voted to distribute $500 million to 15 counties throughout California in order to expand or improve existing jail facilities.
The vote followed a heated public hearing, during which the panel listened to sheriffs and county members. Activists also spoke, asking funds go toward education and community outreach programs, not more jails.
San Joaquin County originally asked the state for $40 million for a new 384-bed facility with classrooms, vocational space, an education program center, interview rooms, a medical exam room, library and administration space.
While the county will only receive $33.3 million, the board voted to allow counties to work with the state to restructure their projects to conform to the funds available.
“We’re very happy with that,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore on Thursday, adding that the county also has an additional $18 million available from the state for the facility through a previous application.
The Sheriff’s department will update the county’s board of supervisors on the status of the project during a meeting on Jan. 28. Moore said the department’s goal is to begin construction in two years or less.
While the new facility will not create additional beds, it will allow jail staff to house additional inmates in a facility that’s routinely at maximum capacity.
In all, 36 counties asked for $1.3 billion in funding — more than twice the amount available — to help shift the burden of incarceration from the state to counties.
Last month, following a hearing in Sacramento, a steering committee made recommendations to the Board of State and Community Corrections. Those recommendations whittled down the number of counties and the amount of the requests in order to meet the half-billion dollars available.
Moore said the Sheriff’s department is in the process of determining how the project will stay in line with the funds available.
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