AB 900 Moves Forward

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The month of June provided a shot in the arm for the overcrowded prison system as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation made concrete progress in its efforts to implement new construction and renovation projects.
After three years of navigating its way through a minefield of fiscal, political, planning and judicial issues, in the space of one week in mid-June, the CDCR reached several significant milestones in the comprehensive overhaul of California corrections authorized under AB 900, the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007.
AB 900 authorizes $7.7 billion ($7.3 billion in bonds and $350 million from the state’s general fund) to fund the addition of 53,000 state prison and local jail beds to relieve severe overcrowding, improve conditions and offender outcomes, and ward off the threat of federal court intervention.
Construction Milestones

• June 14: The CDCR receives approval from the state’s Public Works Board to proceed with three infill projects — the California Health Care Facility and the Dewitt Nelson Correctional Facility in Stockton, and the Estrella Correctional Facility in Paso Robles.
Capital outlay projects authorized for funding by the California Legislature, such as those under AB 900, must undergo rigorous PWB review and approval of scope, schedule and cost factors to ensure compliance with the intent of the Legislature’s original funding authorization. 
• June 15: The department breaks ground on a 64-bed intermediate care mental health facility at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville — the first AB 900 construction project.
• June 16: The California Pooled Money Investment Board approves three loans totaling approximately $63.4 million to fund preliminary plans and partial working drawings for the DeWitt and Estrella projects. The funding will also advance development of performance criteria for the California Health Care Facility in Stockton — the CDCR’s first design-build project.
As part of California’s cash-flow management process, the PMIB makes short-term loans to fund various phases of public project design and construction. AB 900 authorizes the sale of lease revenue bonds to repay the loans following the completion of construction.
• June 17: The CDCR breaks ground on a 45-bed acute/intermediate care mental health facility at the California Institution for Women in Chino — the second AB 900 project.
Work on the Boards
California Health Care Facility Stockton
The first design-build project undertaken by the CDCR, the proposed medical center will deliver 1,722 beds for minimum- to maximum-security state inmates with acute and chronic medical and mental health conditions. With an estimated cost of $900.4 million, the new medical center will have approximately 1.1 million square feet of operational space to support medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment delivery and rehabilitative and re-entry programming, including vocational and educational training. Concept drawings should be finalized this summer and construction could be completed by the first quarter of 2013.
Dewitt Nelson Correctional Facility
The $188.3 project, which includes renovation and new construction, will convert the deactivated DeWitt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility to deliver a 684-bed Level II state prison facility for adult male inmates with approximately 229,000 square feet of space. The project, which will have an operational capacity of 1,133 beds and requires significant site and infrastructure improvements, includes inmate housing, healthcare services facilities, programming, visitation and ancillary support services space. The proposed California Health Care Facility, which will be located on an adjacent site, will provide administration and primary support services for the redeveloped DeWitt facility. With the preliminary planning and working drawings phases set for March 2011 and October 2011, respectively, the project is scheduled for completion by September 2013.
Estrella Correctional Facility
El Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility will be converted to create a 630-bed state prison for Level II adult male inmates. The redeveloped facility will incorporate approximately 338,000 square feet of operational space, including inmate housing, programming, healthcare facilities, support services and administration. Requiring significant site and infrastructure improvements to service the projected 1,000-bed operational capacity, the project will cost an estimated $111.4 million. Preliminary plans should be finalized by February followed by working drawings mid-summer. Construction is scheduled for completion by January 2013. 
California Medical Facility Vacaville
At an estimated cost of $33.7 million, the project will deliver approximately 44,000 square feet of new construction, including housing, treatment, support and administrative services for state prison inmates at the existing California Medical Facility in Vacaville. Plans also call for the erection of a new electrified perimeter fence, two perimeter security towers and additional parking capacity. The project, which is scheduled for completion by August 2011, is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification.
California Institution for Women
The $33.8 million project will create approximately 53,000 square feet of new facility space, including housing, treatment, support and administrative services at the existing women’s state prison in Chino. Construction will also include, two perimeter security towers and additional parking. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011 and is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification.