County officials apply for jail funds

Local officials will apply for a controversial state funding program that could buoy new county jail construction plans but may require a facility for state prison inmates to be built on the Peninsula.

Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a resolution to apply for funds from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Supervisors previously backed away from the program because of its requirement to build locked rehabilitation centers for state inmates who plan to come back to San Mateo County.

But supervisors and Sheriff Greg Munks now hope the state will accept a compromise that will allow housing for some state prisoners without having to build a separate facility.

On Tuesday, Munks proposed a plan to lease 108 beds in the county’s planned 648-bed jail to state corrections officials. The proposed jail, which is expected to open in 2011, is expected to ease overcrowding and reduce recidivism by offering vocational, substance abuse, mental health and gender-specific counseling to inmates.

Munks said that if the state accepts the compromise, the county can expect to receive about $3 million a year from the state to care for the inmates. San Mateo County may also be eligible for up to $100 million in state funds to build the new jail on the current Maple Street site in Redwood City.

Munks said most counties are struggling with where to put the locked rehabilitation units the state requires, which may lead corrections officials to ease the requirement.

Supervisor Jerry Hill said he was “troubled” by reducing the number of proposed beds for county jail inmates, given the current overcrowding and the projections of increased inmates.

But the other supervisors said they weren’t bothered by the reduction in the number of county inmate beds.

“I don’t think they answer is more beds. The key here is to develop more programs to reduce recidivism,” Supervisor Mark Church said.

Munks said that while building a stand-alone locked facility for state inmates would probably encounter fierce resistance, housing state prisoners in the county jail would be a different story.

“These people are coming back into the community. It behooves us to do a better job to prepare them,” he said.

The county must apply for the state funds by March 18, but the application does not obligate San Mateo County to take any action.

tbarak@examiner.com

Proposed jail by the numbers

» Funds requested from state: $100 million

» Total estimated cost of new jail: $139.89 million

» Total beds: 648

» County jail beds: 540

» State prison beds: 108

Estimated timeline

» Design development with staffing plan

Completion date: Jan. 1, 2009

» Staffing/operating cost analysis

Completion date: Sept. 1, 2008

» Construction bids

Completion date: July 1, 2009

» Construction

Start date: Aug.1, 2009

Completion date: Oct. 11, 2011

» Inmate move in

Start date: Oct. 11, 2011

Completion date: Nov. 11, 2011

Source: San Mateo County Sheriff

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