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Supervisors hire architects to design new county jail
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The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors took the first major step toward the construction of a new county jail on Tuesday, unanimously approving HOK, of San Francisco, and WLC Architects, of Folsom, to design the facilities.

The project will build 384 new maximum security prison beds, 72 medical and mental health beds, a secure control facility, and a day reporting facility. The new facility will be located at 200 E. Hackett Rd. in Modesto, near the existing Public Safety Center and the County Animal Shelter.

The new beds are expected to help the county deal with an influx of new prisoners through realignment, the state’s cost-saving plan to release less-violent criminals into the care of county jails and probation.

“We had a local jail bed shortage before realignment, and now here we are today,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.

Those medical and mental health beds are also expected to help address an “ever growing concern,” Christianson said, through a partnership with Doctors’ Hospital in Modesto. The day reporting center will help replace the current facility in Salida, already outgrown by the county, while adding additional early intervention and vocational rehabilitation opportunities.

The site will be constructed primarily via $80 million in state grants. Stanislaus County is the first county in the state to receive such funds, made available though a new state program.

“This is really an effort of the heart, and the tenacity of this organization,” said assistant county CEO Patty Hill-Thomas.

The county will provide $9.5 million in matching funds, coming from the tobacco endowment fund, public facility fees, and cash. A further $24 million in county Detention Public Facility Fees will be used to construct a lobby, jail administration, an intake facility, staff support areas, and site improvements.

The due diligence process is expected to conclude in December. Design-build construction contracts are projected for winter2014, with completion expected in summer 2016.

The county will not be required to fully staff the new facilities upon opening, and may gradually grow into the new site.

Securing the funding needed to construct the new jail, and obtaining such skilled architects, is a testament to Stanislaus County, Hill-Thomas said. She drew parallels with the Oakland Athletics clinching a postseason berth a night before, marveling at how the small county was able to earn funding before any larger players.

“This is like our World Series,” Hill-Thomas said. “… How amazing it is when people decide to team up and work together.”