Supervisors are expected Tuesday to greenlight a call for design and construction proposals for a 384-bed expansion of Stanislaus County’s jail system.
The $89.5 million project on Hackett Road, south of Modesto, will feature two maximum security housing units, each with 192 beds, plus a 72-bed wing for inmates with medical and mental health needs, and a day reporting center for probationers. The county was awarded an $80 million state grant and has $8.9 million in local funds to pay for the expansion.
In addition, the county plans to use $23 million in public facility fees for support facilities.
Seven contractors were prequalified to compete for a “design-build” contract for the jail expansion and support facilities. The county could add 96 jail beds to the expansion if a contractor can deliver the additional beds within budget.
Nine contractors, including five from the Modesto area, are poised to compete for the day reporting center project.
A schedule calls for completing the day reporting center in summer 2015. The jail expansion and facilities for intake, release and transportation of prisoners could be finished in late 2016 or early 2017. It could push the county’s jail capacity to about 1,800 beds.
Studies concluded that Stanislaus County was in need of more jail capacity before statewide public safety realignment, which began in 2011. And the initiative to make counties responsible for lower-level criminal offenders has increased the demand, officials have said.
A staffing shortage recently forced the Sheriff’s Department to release inmates and close a 62-bed unit at the men’s jail in downtown Modesto. Two units housing 128 inmates at the Public Safety Center could be vacated, as the department needs to fill about 40 custodial deputy positions.
No one is sure yet how the county will staff the jail expansion when it’s completed three years from now. A report says the Sheriff’s Department will need to add about 102 deputies for the expansion.
“It is a real concern,” Supervisor Terry Withrow said. “We don’t want to build something and have it sit there empty because we can’t afford to staff it. We are working on ways to fund the staffing side of it. The crisis we are facing now is not funding – it’s manpower. We are having such a hard time finding qualified people and getting them hired.”
Costs of operating the new facilities are estimated at $13.3 million the first year. The county could open the new housing units in phases, depending on funding.
In another item, supervisors will consider zoning ordinance changes designed to maintain the historic character of Knights Ferry. In the past several years, the mining settlement dating to 1849 has seen more proposals for residential development.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2321.