Contra Costa Co. sheriff lays out jail expansion plan

July 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Contra Costa County sheriff today is pleading for millions of dollars to build more jail space to handle a growing number of inmates. The sheriff wants to expand the West Contra Costa County Detention Facility in Richmond.

The sheriff's department says that they're running out of room and today the sheriff and representatives of the Department of Corrections laid out a plan and budget to expand the West Contra Costa Detention Facility by 150 bunk beds to hold 300 additional inmates.

To a packed room, Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston and representatives of the Department of Corrections unveiled his plan for expansion to the West Contra Costa Detention Facility. He says the number of newly sentenced inmates and parole violators has caused the jail to fill faster than expected. He says he needs room for the growing population; today he laid out a plan to use part of the $9.7 million budget funds dedicated to help pay for the realignment of lower-level offenders from state prisons into county custody. Critics say that money should be spent on programs that help keep people out of jail, rather than targeting parole violators and low level offenders.

"By the time we're interested in putting someone in the jail, I'm telling you it's not because they missed a meeting. It's because of series of efforts that we've made," said Contra Costa Co. Chief Probation Officer Philip Kader.

"They did split all the Nortenos and Surenos and the Black active gang members, they split all that up and it's working today so why would that work tomorrow?" said former inmate Johnny Valdepena.

"It doesn't make sense to invest in this jail expansion. We need to be investing in people and building real pathways to opportunity," said Contra Costa Interfaith Executive Director Adam Kruggel.

Representatives of the sheriff's department laid out a line item budget that included the estimated costs for staffing, overtime, an inmate re-entry program and renovation improvements needed to the Marsh Creek facility.

The Contra Costa Community Corrections Partnership will review the entire budget and take a final vote on August 9.

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