South Placer jail targeted for early 2014 opening

Supervisors support plan to close North Auburn minimum security facility
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The South Placer Adult Correctional Facility is being targeted for a partial opening in early 2014.

Placer County supervisors were briefed Tuesday on a Placer County Sheriff’s Office plan supported by the County Executive Office that would see 240 beds filled by inmates at the Roseville-area jail and the closure of the 160-bed minimum-security facility in North Auburn. The $92 million facility is built for an initial 390 beds.

Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner outlined a plan for a South Placer facility nearing completion that he said is being spurred by changes in the county’s jail population brought on by 2011’s Assembly Bill 109. The bill shifted inmates who would normally serve state prison time into county jail systems if they are sentenced for what is judged non-sex, non-violent, or non-serious crimes.

“It’s the most significant change in my 39 years plus on the job,” Bonner said. “We’re seeing more sophisticated and dangerous inmates who pose a greater danger to staff and other inmates.”

Bonner said that the South Placer facility is ideal to handle AB-109 inmates and fulfill county law enforcement’s obligations to safely house inmates and provide a greater degree of public protection than now exists.

The board also was briefed on anticipated costs, with an estimated $1.7 million being required in one-time expenditures for upfront pension contributions for new hires and the purchase of materials and supplies. An anticipated 30 new staff members, including jail guards and deputies, are to be hired and trained before the opening.

On-going costs the first year, including salaries and building maintenance will be another $6.1 million. The total cost to open and operate the jail for the first part of 2014 is $7.8 million.

Funding the first year will largely come from an anticipated carryover fund balance from this year’s public safety funding. The 2014-15 operating budget is $9 million and the county anticipates a shortfall of $2.1 million. Principal Management Analyst Bekki Riggan, of the CEO’s office, said the approach to fund the jail could be sustainable over time if the anticipated continuation of the area’s economic recovery continues and more revenues are generated.

Capt. Wayne Woo backed Bonner’s remarks with statistics that showed the current jail facilities in North Auburn holding an average inmate population of 626 in the first quarter of this year - compared with 528 at the time of implementation of the bill in October 2011. The demand could increase to an average of 1,025 beds by 2018, Woo said.

“It’s much harder to manage and much more dangerous,” Wood said. “Fights have increased to almost daily occurrences.”

Woo said an altercation at the North Auburn Placer County Jail earlier this year involved 30 inmates and could be considered a “small-scale riot.”

Contraband seizures inside the jail are also on a marked upswing, he said. During the first quarter of this year, seizures of weapons and narcotics were up 289 percent, he said.


Supervisors decide to retain Unity Care

Placer County supervisors rejected a staff-generated plan Tuesday to replace a San Jose firm mid-contract.

Unity Care had protested at a board meeting last month that it was unfairly being dropped by the county, which it had contracted with since 2009 to provide help transitioning foster youths in Placer County for life in the adult world.

Supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Robert Weygandt against Supervisor Jack Duran’s motion, to reject a proposal by the Children’s System of Care to turn the county’s independent living program over in July to the Placer County Office of Education.

The Unity Care contract for $202,000 a year will run through June 2014. Duran said he was “sorely disappointed” that staff initiating the proposed changeover could treat a contract “like it’s one for lawn care.” The new contract with the education office would have been for $460,000 over two years.