County officials who recently toured the Richmond Jail construction site said they promise to implement programs to help reduce inmate populations. This, they said, will help ensure that the soon-to-be-finished $134 million expansion will not be in vein.
The expansion is being constructed around an already existing facility. The current jail has quickly reached over capacity after the state’s prisoner realignment program went into effect. The realignment mandated state prisons transfer certain inmates to county jails to serve out the remainder of their sentences.
The “new” Richmond Jail is set to be complete in Jan 2014. It will reportedly have a capacity of 1,032 beds in addition to 114 “special-purpose” beds. Jail officials say the current facility often reaches an average daily population of 1,400 plus. The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department said it will work with county prosecutors to help develop certain inmates which will serve as a jail alternative to certain, low-level offenders. This will likely include drug addicts and the mentally ill. Officials say there is a general consensus that those types of offenders are not best served in a county jail-setting.
The challenge, they say, is finding out a way to house them or move them to an alternative facility without granting amnesty for the crime they committed.