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County, state celebrate jail expansion
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California Gov. Jerry Brown attended the dedication ceremony of the Stanislaus County Sheriffs Detention Center on Tuesday and heralded it as a place that would lead the state in making jails more than just a place to house inmates. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD/The Journal

Touted as the largest capital project to ever be embarked upon in Stanislaus County, the dedication of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Detention Center was held Tuesday with county and state dignitaries, including Gov. Jerry Brown, on hand to see the results of their successful partnership.

The Detention Center was the first project in California to utilize AB 900 Phase II funds, also known as the Local Jail Construction Financing Program established by the State Public Works Board, and now can lay claim to being the first funded project to reach completion. AB 900 funds were born out of the prison realignment effort, also known as AB 109, which shifted responsibility for some low-level offenders away from the state and placed them on the county, with an emphasis on reforming over long-term incarceration.

The completion of the Sheriff’s Detention Center at 200 E. Hackett Road has resulted in more than 171,000 square feet in new facilities and provides 480 maximum security beds as well as housing for 57 medical and mental health offenders and 15 hospital beds.

The Detention Center is part of an overall expansion of Stanislaus County’s Public Safety Center. The expansion includes a previously opened Day Reporting Center at the site that will be used by the probation department for check-ins, substance abuse counseling, life skills and job training.

A third part of the expansion is the Re-entry and Enhanced Alternative to Custody training facility, which is currently under construction and expected to be completed in early 2018.

The total budget for these projects exceeds $114 million, with 90 percent of the funding coming from the state and 10 percent from the county.

The new facilities give Stanislaus County a place that will serve multiple functions related to public safety, including opportunities and programs that are designed to break the cycle of recidivism.

“The process of creating punishment for crime is not the most rational,” Gov. Brown said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “It’s often very reactive and comes out of stories that flash up … then there’s another bill and another law and various sentences are imposed and prisons have to be built and then there’s overcrowding and then the Supreme Court says you have to go the other way and reduce overcrowding. There’s a lot of ping-ponging — you go one way and then you have to go back the other way. That’s why it’s important to get it right and this facility is getting it right.

“It’s more than just time behind bars,” Brown continued. “It’s intervention with intelligence and humanity and force. Stanislaus is leading the way on this.”

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, who said he had been one of the most vocal critics of AB 109, said seeing the completion of the Public Safety Center expansion has made him a “reformed skeptic.”

“This is an amazing opportunity for the people here in Stanislaus County,” Christianson said.

The Projects were designed by HOK of San Francisco and constructed by Hensel Phelps Construction Company of San Jose and the Architect of Record, Dewberry.