The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department has said they will throw their hat in the ring for state grant funding. If approved, the $35 million would be used to expand the Todd Road Jail.
The plan is simple. It would provide for a unit consisting of 64 medical beds to be added to the existing facility. This facility would be used to treat persons who have chronic medical issues and serious mental conditions. It would also mean that 65 general population beds would be freed up at the Ventura County Main Jail.
This county, like others throughout the state, has been struggling to adapt to the state’s inmate realignment program. Under that program, which was implemented in October 2011, non-serious, non-sexual and non-violent offenders have been transferred from state detention facilities to county jails in order to serve their sentences.
County jails were never meant to hold people for more than 12 months at a time. Now, that has changed. Many are now detaining inmates for more than 36 months. The counties are trying to adapt to the long term medical care needs of these realigned inmates.
This, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, is why they wanted to apply for the grant funding.
Jail officials say that about 30 percent of currently incarcerated inmates have some sort of mental illness diagnosis. The challenge lies in finding ways to properly treat this population.
The Todd Road Jail is reportedly rated to hold 800 inmates. It is more than 202,000 square feet in size and it sits on a 137-acre plot of land. The design of the facility is modular- meaning that additional wings could easily be added on in the future.
The original plan was to build it in phases, slowly adding on until it had a rated capacity of 2,000. This was quashed in the early 1990s when a lawsuit brought by local environmental groups shut that all down.
If the funding comes through, the new construction would consist of a single-story wing. The state grant would cover most of the expense, while the county would still be responsible for kicking in $2.3 million.
The Sheriff’s Department has not yet released information with regard to per-bed operating costs. Additional staff will be needed, equipment will need to be maintained and there will be added expenses relating to holding more detainees.
Those numbers are expected to be forthcoming.
They have also not said when they expect to hear back with regard to the grant application, or when the Todd Road Jail expansion would break ground.