Stanislaus County supervisors approved a plan Tuesday to spend a second round of funding on dealing with low-level criminal offenders who used to be the responsibility of the state corrections system.
The county will increase Honor Farm beds and hire more mental health specialists to help former prisoners with psychiatric disorders, but county officials are worried the state won't follow through with adequate funding to pay for public safety realignment.
In October, the state shifted to counties the responsibility for monitoring and rehabilitating nonviolent offenders.
Stanislaus is getting $12.24 million in second-year realignment funds. By carrying over $3.3 million in first-phase funds, the county has $15.5 million for adding 40 positions to the sheriff's, probation and mental health departments and expanding programs for offenders.
The Sheriff's Department will reopen 72 beds at the Honor Farm and hire 17 custodial deputies, four sergeants and three clerical workers. The hiring will include seven probation officers, a supervising legal clerk, a crime analyst, six mental health clinicians or behavioral health specialists, two psychiatric nurses, an administrative clerk, and two family service specialists.
Supervisor Jim DeMartini questioned the need for a crime analyst and whether the county should be adding so many positions. "Whatever money we get from the state will be less next year and less the year after that."
Chief Probation Officer Jill Silva said the analyst will track and parse data on offenders to chart crime rates and help determine programs' effectiveness.
The funding will pay for expanding services such as drug and alcohol intervention, vocational training, educational services and electronic monitoring of people on probation. The spending plan includes $100,000 for reimbursing other police agencies for serving bench warrants and doing probation searches.
Supervisor Terry Withrow said he was pleased that about 10 percent of the funding, $1.45 million, is going toward behavioral health services for offenders with mental disorders or addictions. The county hopes to reduce the number of repeat offenders by expanding those services.
Sheriff Adam Christianson called for reopening the Honor Farm beds because of the strain on the jail system. The county may have to incarcerate convicted offenders for three years or more, and a substantial percentage of offenders won't respond to programs designed to change their ways, he said.
In March, the county won an $80 million grant that will help fund a $132 million jail expansion project to include 384 more maximum-security beds, a medical and mental health wing, and a probation reporting center at the Public Safety Center on Hackett Road. In addition, the county will spend a $12 million insurance settlement at the Hackett Road center to replace 192 Honor Farm inmate beds destroyed by a 2010 fire.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WATCH
The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors took the following action Tuesday:
Authorized negotiations with Oakdale and Riverbank for Stanislaus Regional Transit to merge with the Riverbank-Oakdale Transit Authority. ROTA has suffered from declining fare revenue.
Gave the green light for refinancing 1998 tax-exempt bonds that financed construction and other costs for the public administration building on 10th Street. The remaining $10.36 million debt balance would be refinanced at 1.99 percent annual interest with maturity in 2018, saving the county $380,000.
Reset a public hearing on the Del Rio Lago subdivision map to 6:45 p.m. Aug. 21. The 47-lot subdivision, not to be confused with the disputed Villas at Del Rio town house project, was approved almost eight years ago but was lost to foreclosure in 2011. County staff has suggested canceling the subdivision approval.