RICHMOND (BCN) – Contra Costa County will spend $ 95.5 million to expand West County Detention Center in North Richmond, add more mental health rehabilitation and treatment rooms, while reducing overcrowding at Martinez Detention Center.
The board of directors voted 4: 1 to award the contract to Sletten Construction from Montana, with District 1 overseer John Gioia disagreeing.
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Gioia, whose borough is North Richmond, said the West County Reentry, Treatment and Housing (WRTH) project was better than previous expansion proposals. But he still prefers to house the services it will provide in other locations rather than putting money in another maximum security detention facility.
“It is clearly a better project than at the beginning,” said Gioia. “I’m saying this: if this could be segmented to approve certain parts, I would vote for it – the mental health arena, the classroom, the medical facilities and clinics, the re-entry and professional services.”
The WRTH will include five new secure housing units, a medical treatment center, space for a re-entry program and new facilities for family visits. It adds 288 high security beds, 96 of which are mental health beds, as well as re-entry, family reunification and work readiness rooms from the original proposal. The original proposal was reduced by 128 beds for the general population in order to preserve all medical, treatment and programming rooms.
There will be classrooms and visiting rooms, detoxification rooms, a day room, larger program rooms and 32 beds for inmates with severe mental illnesses. The medical facility will include dentistry and optometry rooms. There will also be a vocational training room.
“Overall, in terms of what happens to a person while in detention, this really increases the ability to do the job, really reintegrate people into the community in a really good way, while being able to provide medical assistance Get the services they need as well as other services, ”said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover.
Contra Costa County has three detention facilities: the Martinez Detention Facility (MDF), the West County Detention Facility (WCDF), and the Marsh Creek Detention Facility with low security in East County.
MDF is currently the only one of the three equipped for high security prisoners and was built in 1977, now can accommodate 695 adults. WCDF, built in 1987, is a medium-security facility that can accommodate up to 1,096 adults.
The staff report for Tuesday’s meeting noted that attitudes toward incarceration have changed 1 / 4ve since Contra Costa built new detention facilities, and shifted to a therapeutic rather than punitive approach. More emphasis is placed on treatment, education and training to prepare inmates for re-entry into society.
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Two other factors influence the design of new prisons. As the state seeks to reduce the number of prisoners, it shifts some responsibilities for long-term detention back to its districts, thanks to Congregation Bill 109 passed in 2011.
There is also an increasing proportion of inmates with significant mental and other medical problems in the system who, due to the closure of government treatment facilities, require more advanced treatment than the state can provide.
As part of a dispute settlement with the Prison Law Office in 2020, the county agreed to expand medical, psychological treatment and programming space in its prison system.
The project will not expand Contra Costa’s prison population. When WCDF is complete, 288 beds will be removed from the MDF, reducing the nominal capacity of the beds registered with the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) from the current 695 beds to 407 beds.
The Martinez facility was originally built in 1981 for single cells with a nominal capacity of 384 people. MDF will remodel the space for additional mental health treatment, new plumbing, and accessibility improvements.
Most of the project’s funding has come from a $ 70 million state grant approved by Senate Act 844 and $ 25.5 million from the county general fund used in prior fiscal years.
The county will also spend an additional $ 18 million on county employees and consultants, $ 5 million on equipment and $ 8 million on contingent costs, bringing the total project price to $ 126.5 million.
The county hopes to complete the final design in November 2022, with construction a few weeks later and the new facilities by the end of November 2024.
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