HOLLISTER, Calif. — The San Benito County Jail is about to grow by half as much more, thanks to a 22,000-square-foot, $22 million capacity upgrade now underway. Spurring the need for expansion is a trend toward longer sentences being served by inmates in the county jail. The expansion will also see additional medical and mental health capabilities as well as educational programs devised to provide inmates skills to aid in finding gainful employment upon release.
The expansion is “podular” in its design, according to local news service SanBenito.com, and will be comprised of a pair of two-story pods that can each accommodate 36 inmates. This is in contrast to the present, quarter-century old facility, which houses approximately 140 inmates.
Among other new features, the facility will soon garner a health service areas, classrooms and outdoor recreation yards. There will also be a central control room outfitted with contemporary corrections technology. With an emphasis on rehabilitation, inmates will be encouraged to take part in myriad education programs and make use of digital tablets that will enable them to work toward attaining high school diplomas or Bachelor’s degrees. There will also be vocational apprenticeship programs for a variety of trades including disciplines such as horticulture.
The vision for the expanded county jail hails back over a decade ago when the state’s AB900 law made available $15 million for the project. To complete the project, however, the county may have to match the state monies with a $7 million of locally-raised funds. The San Benito County Jail opened originally in November 1992 and cost of $7 million.
Inmates will likely remain housed in the present facility even after the expansion is completed though it’s expected portions of the existing building will be redeployed for other correctional functions such as administrating work furloughs and other services.
Construction began at the beginning of the year with about an additional year ahead. At present writing, the project is nearly a month behind schedule due to inclement weather.