Many will agree that the Richmond Jail has long needed an expansion. Conditions have been overcrowded for years and the 2011 implementation of the California prisoner realignment hasn’t done much to help. At the same time, will the currently-planned expansion be enough?
The new jail is reported to have capacity that is 17% greater than what exists today. Contra Costa Sheriff’s officials, though, say that the average daily inmate population is at 50% overcapacity. The updated facility, they said, will still be overcrowded from the minute it opens.
Opponents of the plan say greater emphasis should be placed on rehabilitation and recidivism reduction programs. Some believe there would be a marked advantage to releasing some low-level offenders early via GPS monitoring devices. Others say house arrest is also a viable solution and should be more greatly explored.
The efforts to reduce inmate populations, they say, have not been significant enough. Unless the focus shifts to reducing the number of inmates being detained as opposed to finding ways to house more of them, the county will continue to have problems.
Proponents of the jail expansion point to other counties. Early release programs have caused upticks in crimes against property in communities throughout California, they said. They believe letting offenders out early is not the best solution.
The matter is ongoing. Common ground has not yet been found.