Contra Costa County to spend $ 95.5 million to expand West County Detention Center in North Richmond, adding more rehabilitation and mental health treatment space while reducing overcrowding at the detention center by Martinez.
The board of supervisors voted 4-1 to award the contract to Montana-based Sletten Construction, with District 1 supervisor John Gioia dissenting.
Gioia, whose district includes North Richmond, said the West County Re-entry, Treatment and Housing (WRTH) project is better than previous expansion proposals. But he still prefers to house the services he will provide in other places, rather than putting the money in another high-security detention center.
âIt’s clearly a better project than when it started,â said Gioia. “I will say this: If it could be segmented to approve some parts, I would vote for it – the part on mental health, classroom space, medical facilities and clinics, rehabilitation and vocational services. .
WRTH will include five new secure housing units, a medical treatment center, space for a reintegration program and new family visiting facilities. It adds 288 high-security beds, including 96 mental health treatment beds, and reintegration, family reunification and workforce preparation spaces from the original proposal. The initial proposal was reduced by 128 beds for the general population in order to preserve all medical, treatment and programming spaces.
There will be a classroom and visitation space, a detox space, a day room, larger program rooms and 32 beds for inmates with severe mental illness. The medical facility will include dental and optometry spaces. There will also be a vocational training room.
âOverall, in terms of what happens to a person while incarcerated, it really increases the ability to do the job of really connecting people to the community in a good way while they are able. get the medical help they need as well as other services, âDistrict 5 Federal Glover supervisor said.
Contra Costa County has three detention centers: Martinez Detention Center (MDF), West County Detention Center (WCDF), and Marsh Creek Low Security Detention Center in L County. ‘East.
MDF is currently the only one of three equipped for high security inmates and, built in 1977, now has a capacity of 695 adults. WCDF, built in 1987, is a medium security facility accommodating up to 1,096 adults.
The staff report for Tuesday’s meeting noted how attitudes towards incarceration have changed since Contra Costa built new detention centers, shifting to a more therapeutic than punitive approach. The emphasis is more on treatment, education and training to prepare prisoners for reintegration into society.
Two other factors influence the design of new detention centers. As the state attempts to reduce its prison population, it is reallocating some long-term incarceration responsibilities to its counties, thanks to Assembly Bill 109, passed in 2011.
There is also a growing proportion of inmates with significant mental health and other medical issues in the system, requiring more advanced treatment than the state can provide, due to the closure of treatment facilities. of State.
As part of a 2020 dispute resolution with the prison law office, the county agreed to expand the medical treatment, mental health and programming space in its detention center system.
The project will not increase the prison population of Contra Costa. When WCDF is complete, 288 beds will be removed from MDF, reducing its nominal capacity of beds registered with the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) from the current 695 beds to 407 beds.
Martinez Institution was originally built for single occupancy cells with a nominal capacity of 384 in 1981. MDF will redevelop the space to add mental health treatments, new plumbing and accessibility improvements.
Most of the funding for the project comes from a $ 70 million state grant, authorized by Senate Bill 844, and $ 25.5 million from the county general fund, allocated over the years. previous exercises.
The county will also spend an additional $ 18 million on county staff and consultants, $ 5 million on equipment and $ 8 million on emergency costs, bringing the cost of the entire project to 126, $ 5 million.
The county hopes the final design will be ready in November 2022, with construction starting a few weeks later and the new facilities operating by the end of November 2024.