San Joaquin officials have asked the state if it can spare $40 million in grant funding so the county can build a new jail.
The reason for the pitch relates to the ever-aging Honor Farm facility, which is antiquated and out of date. If construction does move forward the new jail will also provide programs geared toward helping inmates reintegrate into society.
These programs, according to those close to the project, are designed to reduce recidivism rates and keep former offenders on the straight and narrow.
California has reportedly pledged to grant $500 million to counties to help upgrade, expand and/or build new jails. A total of 36 counties have requested funds, but current requests topple $1 billion.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department has underscored the need for expanded rehabilitation programs, especially in light of the prisoner realignment.
For the past two years low-level, non-serious, non-sexual offenders have had their sentences shifted from state facilities to county jails. This is causing widespread overcrowding a the local level, and many feel the best way to solve this problem involves reducing recidivism.
It's no longer about locking people up and tossing the key, they said. It's about helping offenders to become productive members of society.
San Joaquin received $80 million in 2011 to use toward jail construction. The county board of supervisors, however, gave it back after learning annual operating costs would be more than $70 million per year.
The 2013 plan doesn't involve adding bed space, they said. It will instead allow them to construct a higher-security facility and better handle realignment detainees. It also has an anticipated $1 million per year operating cost, which San Joaquin can easily afford.
The state is expected to announce it's final decision within the next few months. If the funds are approved, groundbreaking for the new San Joaquin County Jail could happen in the second half of 2014.