CERES, Calif. — The newly expanded Stanislaus County Public Safety Center in Ceres received its official dedication on March 7 in a ceremony attended by local government and correctional officials as well as Gov. Jerry Brown. The project, which included several facilities spanning a total of approximately 170,000 square feet, was spurred by the state’s 2011 Assembly Bill (AB) 900 public safety realignment initiative. The project also included a support facility for inmate intake, release and transportation activities, which was dedicated on March 7 as well.
Construction on the roughly $113 million expansion first began in August 2014, and today the facility contains 480 new beds spread across two new maximum-security units. An additional 15 hospital beds and 57 beds dedicated for inmates with co-occurring medical and mental health needs brings the total bed count to 552. The facility was intended to increase the county jail’s housing capacity as well as provide the ability to launch new programs aimed at decreasing recidivism rates.
The public safety center expansion project was the largest capital project ever launched by the Stanislaus County government and the first project in the state to be completed using AB 900 Phase II funds. AB 900 initially created $7.4 billion in lease-revenue bonds for construction to relieve overcrowding in state prisons, expand county jail housing capacity and provide health care facilities for inmates. The state awarded $80 million to the county for the jail expansion and then $40 million for a new re-entry center.
The Sacramento, Calif. office of Dewberry served as the architect of record for the project, and teamed with San Jose, Calif.-based Hensel Phelps, which is serving as the design-builder. The San Francisco office of HOK provided expertise and acted as the criteria architect on the project.
The Modesto Bee reported that the newly expanded facility will accept its first inmates on March 20 and the expansion will open in phases according to staffing levels and available funding. The grant required that the jail facilities to be occupied by March 31, 2017. The new expansion may further enable the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department to vacate the antiquated men’s jail in downtown Modesto.
While the recently completed expansion will help ease the county’s overcrowding issues, other projects will help inmates to find success and avoid recidivism upon release. The campus already includes a completed day reporting center that allows former inmates to meet with their probation officers, have their service needs assessed and learn job skills — and construction is currently underway on a new 288-bed re-entry unit complete with classrooms and resources for inmates who are within a year of release.