By Roxanne Squires
SANTA ROSA, Calif. – In an effort to address its ever-changing population needs as laws shift responsibilities from state corrections to county corrections for newly convicted, low-level offenders, Sonoma County, Calif., selected DLR Group to design its new Sonoma Behavioral Health Housing and Transitional Unit.
The Behavioral Health Housing Unit will provide safety and security enhancements with better mental health treatment for existing inmates, relieving strains on mental health treatment at existing County detention facilities, with no net-gain in total County inmate population, according to the county website.
The new 32,800-square-foot, 72-bed specialized housing unit project will provide an environment that supports therapeutic programs currently in place for both staff and inmates alike.
The main focus of the unit is to design a space that incorporates treatment in a therapeutic health care environment while also functioning as a custody center.
The design combines single- and double-occupancy rooms that will allow flexibility depending on capacity and treatment needs.
According to DLR Group, the scale of the housing units is smaller than the most institutional facilities which creates the impression of a more residential campus, utilizing increased daylight and better-quality acoustics.
As program space is vital – two multipurpose rooms were create to provide plentiful accommodation in opportunities for group socialization, group discussions, and life skills development.
Interview rooms will provide personalized medical/mental health assessment, treatment planning and community re-entry facilitation.
Clerestories will be located above the dayrooms and will be installed to not only be able to welcome extensive natural light, but to eliminate sun glare and heat gain.
The facility is also arranged around a secure landscaped courtyard, creating an inward-focused, nature-based community environment.
The expansion of programming space will allow the county to offer more evidence-based programs, and cognitive behavioral therapy to the medical/mental health population in a physical layout that is secure and safe for both staff and inmates.
The ultimate goal is to help reduce recidivism by providing exceptional programs and treatment that allow inmate-patients to cope and succeed once they re-enter the community.
DLR Group and Construction Manager- Kitchell of Sacramento, Calif. working in conjunction with County staff consisting of the County Administrator’s Office, Department of Health Services, Sheriff Office, County Counsel and General Services, developed the architecture and programming requirements for the new facility.
The groundbreaking for the $44.675 million facility commenced in 2018 and is slated for completion in 2019.