Due to jail overcrowding which has be exacerbated by California’s jail realignment, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department wants to add 150 beds to the Richmond Jail facility.
The county’s current inmate capacity is about 1,900, according to a recent report by the Mercury News. If approved, the additional beds would help offset jail overcrowding brought on by the state’s prisoner realignment program. Implemented in October 2010, the realignment mandates low level, non-sexual non-violent inmates be transferred from state prisons to county jails to serve out the remainder of their sentences.
The beds would be added by installing a $2 million prefabricated steel structure adjacent to the current jail. Proponents of the plan say the structure will also increase safety, as rival gang members could be kept separate.
Opponents of the plan say the county should be less focused on increasing jail capacity and instead spend more time figuring out ways to reduce it. The greater focus, they said, should be on reducing recidivism and the implementation of programs that rehabilitate offenders.
One faith-based group feels Contra Costa jails would be better served if law enforcement officials spent less time locking up illegal immigrants. The county has deported more undocumented persons than many of its counterparts, they said, and more than 1,600 people have been deported since 2010. Approximately 40% of those deported had not yet been convicted of a crime.
If approved, the Richmond Jail expansion would be paid for in through the use of $19 million in funding the county is set to receive from the state to help offset the fiscal impact of the realignment.
The County Board of Supervisors is set to begin discussions on how to allocate those monies in August.