MODESTO — Stanislaus County supervisors approved a plan Tuesday to move juvenile offenders into a newly built $22 million rehabilitation center in June.
County officials said the 60-bed facility on Blue Gum Avenue was completed more than $2 million under budget.
It will house court-committed young people who are the county's responsibility under statewide juvenile justice realignment. Under legislation enacted in 2007, nonviolent juvenile offenders serve their court sentences in county facilities instead of being supervised by the state corrections system.
The Stanislaus County center was designed to downplay the institutional environment and allow for providing education programs and behavioral health services to the young inmates. It has classrooms, a multipurpose gymnasium and visitation area, a culinary kitchen and a recreation yard.
The center built for 45 boys and 15 girls, ages 14 to 17 has single, double and dormitory-style sleeping rooms.
Supervisor Bill O'Brien said if the culinary education program is successful, the county should consider letting the wards prepare the meals and snacks in the new center and Juvenile Hall. For now, supervisors agreed to extend a $600,000-a-year food service contract with the Howard Training Center through Dec. 31.
In April and May, the county will conduct safety and security evaluations and hold training for staff members who will work in the facility. Young offenders will be transferred over from the Juvenile Hall starting June 1.
1-to-15 staffing ratio at new facility
Jill Silva, the county's chief probation officer, said juveniles will be moved to the center based on their age, criminal history, maturity and program needs. The transfers will substantially reduce the population in the 158-bed Juvenile Hall, allowing the county to shift 28 staff positions to the new facility.
A report says a 32-member staff is required to operate the new center. The facility is required to have one supervising staff member for every 15 wards, compared with a 1-to-10 staffing ratio at Juvenile Hall.
It's expected to cost $3.7 million annually to operate the center. The county will use a combination of current funds, juvenile probation funding and youth offender block grants. The state created the block grants to compensate counties for watching nonviolent juvenile offenders.
Officials had estimated it would cost $24.2 million for the designs, land and construction, but the bid process and construction savings reduced the figure by more than $2 million. The state gave the county up to $18 million to develop the center; the local funding came from public facility fees and a criminal justice facility fund.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2321.
The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors took the following action Tuesday:
Approved a 263-acre enterprise zone expansion. The action will result in tax credits for Dave Wilson Nursery near Hickman, Hughson Nut-Cal Almond and Burchell Nursery near Oakdale. Citing a conflict of interest, Supervisor Terry Withrow did not participate in the 4-0 vote.
In closed session, approved a settlement to distribute fidelity bond funds to claimants in a lawsuit between International Fidelity Insurance Co. and Roger Ernst & Associates. The Auction Park on Kiernan Road, owned by Roger Ernst, abruptly closed a year ago.
Voted unanimously in closed session to join other counties appealing a trial court decision regarding mental health services. In 2009, the state issued regulations shifting the responsibility for "ancillary" services to counties. Colusa County and others filed a lawsuit, but the court sided with the state.