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South Placer Adult Correctional Facility may not open until 2014

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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While construction of the South Placer Adult Correctional Facility in Roseville is expected to be completed by July, the new facility may not begin housing inmates until April 2014. That is nine months later than the original projected opening date, according to officials. The reason: lack of sufficient funding to staff the new 300,000-square-foot facility located at the Bill Santucci Justice Center, 10800 Industrial Ave. in Roseville. “We have to hire about 79 more people to fully staff the jail,” said Placer County Sheriff’s Capt. George Malim. “We were hoping that when this project started, we’d be able to open when it was finished, but that is not going to be the case.” Construction of the $98 million facility began in 2009 and it was expected to be fully operational by July 2013, according to previous reports. Malim said that the downturn in the economy caused a decline in tax revenues that has postponed the hiring process to staff the jail. Phase 1 of the project will provide 390 beds, including 120 minimum security beds, a medical unit, administration, and intake/booking/transportation, as well as a correctional kitchen and other support functions. Malim said the county’s plan is to transfer 51 staff members from the Auburn Adult Correctional Facility to the new facility and hire 79 new employees to operate the center. “For every one position we hire, we go through about three background checks,” Malim said. “So that’s a long process.” Meanwhile, the Roseville City Jail has reduced its hours of operation with fewer staff in anticipation of the new jail opening at the Santucci Justice Center. “Placer County originally planned to open the Santucci jail in the spring of 2012,” said Dee Dee Gunther of the Roseville Police Department. ”Since we thought we’d have a large county-operated jail in Roseville, we expected to close the city jail and take our arrestees directly to the county jail, like all the other cities do.” Gunther said that due to the uncertainty of the future of the Roseville City Jail, which is staffed largely by civilian correctional officers, many staff members found jobs elsewhere. Because of city budget belt-tightening, the Roseville Police Department didn’t fill correctional officer positions when they were vacated, Gunther said. As a result, the city authorized the hiring of four civilian correctional officers — two to fill existing vacancies, and two to restore positions that had previously been cut — last month. Gunther said if the city jail is closed, officers take arrestees up to the main jail in Auburn for booking, which takes officers out of the city and makes them unavailable to respond to calls for longer periods of time. She said the opening of the new jail at the Santucci center may or may not provide some relief for the department, depending on how the county operates the new facility, either as a prisoner housing facility only, or as a full-fledged south county booking facility. “There are still some unknowns,” Gunther said. “That’s why we’re planning to continue our own jail operations for the foreseeable future.” Malim said an additional $32 million is needed to cover operating costs for the first year, which includes startup costs of hiring and training staff for the new jail, writing policies and procedures and running essential testing. He said funding will likely have to come from the county’s general fund, public safety sales tax and “whatever else the county can find.” “Before we open the place, we need to put it through a pretty rigorous shakedown of all the systems to make sure everything is working the way it is supposed to,” Malim said. “It’s still an unknown where the funding is going to come from.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.