Tulare County is one step closer to receiving $40 million in state funds to replace the existing Men’s Correctional Facility and Day Reporting Center located north of Visalia.
A committee of the Board of State and Community Corrections recommended to allocate $500 million to 15 counties for upgrading local jails to include rehabilitative program space that meets Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison and public safety realignment goals. The recommendations will be considered at the Board of State and Community Corrections meeting on January 16 in Los Angeles.
“This is very exciting news for Tulare County,” said Pete Vander Poel, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “This is a facility that is certainly needed due to the influx of state prisoners as a result of realignment. I would like to commend the Tulare County team that put together the application that will ultimately meet a very important need.”
Tulare County Acting Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said the recommendation is extremely good news for his department.
“I am so pleased with the positive collaborative effort from all of the county partners that made this proposal viable,” Boudreaux said. “The future of this department and the county as a whole requires us to actively seek opportunities such as this to improve the infrastructure of our detention facilities. Our team has been diligently working on this project, making several trips to Sacramento. I am excited for the project and for the future of our department.”
If the recommendation is approved, the funding would pay for 90 percent of construction and related expenses for the project. The program requires Tulare County to pledge 10 percent, or $4.4 million, of the project amount in matching funds from cash or in-kind sources.
The project would replace existing facilities with a 384-bed jail, day reporting center, vocational center, and program space in Visalia. Features of the project include a jail that will house the cells in small groups; several classrooms dedicated to educational, cognitive behavioral therapy, and vocational instruction; and a small number of administrative segregation cells.
According to the Board of State and Community Corrections, 36 counties submitted requests for funding that were ranked according to how closely they met the requirements of AB 109’s landmark reform mandate to house and rehabilitate non-serious, non-violent, non-sexual offenders in their home communities. Realignment seeks to improve rehabilitation results by keeping offenders close to families and support systems. It includes constitutionally guaranteed funding for proven programs that support offenders’ successful transition back into the community.
Under realignment, the state is investing hundreds millions of dollars in local rehabilitation and crime-prevention programs to continue to improve public safety in our communities. The impact of these investments will be measured over years as the programs develop.
The construction funding is a result of SB 1022, which provided for the issuance of lease revenue bonds to help finance the jail modifications needed to accommodate offenders who otherwise would have been sent to state prisons.
Many jails do not have classroom space for training and rehabilitation programs. SB 1022 specified that counties would be considered that are seeking to replace or upgrade outdated facilities and provide alternatives to incarceration, including mental health and substance treatment.
Construction projects deemed most ready to begin were more heavily weighted. Counties also were required to show they have set aside a minimum of 10 percent of the total project costs.
The proposed allocations announced were decided by a BSCC executive steering committee following presentations in Sacramento December 4-5. The BSCC was established by 2012 legislation to serve as an independent body providing realignment leadership and technical assistance to the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems.