CERES, Calif. — A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Aug. 15 for the $113 million expansion to the Public Safety Center in Ceres, located outside of Modesto. It is the largest capital project launched by the Stanislaus County government.
Sacramento, Calif.-based Dewberry is the Architect of Record for the project, teamed with San Jose, Calif.-based Hensel Phelps, which is serving as the design-builder. San Francisco-based HOK is working as the criteria architect on the project.
The project will increase the county’s jail capacity as well as launch new programs aimed to help decrease recidivism rates. The expansion includes two maximum-security units, which will add 480 jail beds to the existing Public Safety Center. The expansion also includes a medical and mental health wing for inmates, according to The Modesto Bee.
While the facility will help with the county’s overcrowding issues, it will also help inmates after their incarceration. A new day reporting center will provide a setting for former inmates to meet with probation officers, have their service needs assessed and learn job skills to help them change their ways. The last part of the project includes a support facility for intake, release and transportation of prisoners.
The expansion is being funded through the state’s jail construction financing program, which was created to help with public safety realignment. Assembly Bill (AB) 900 created $7.4 billion in lease-revenue bonds for construction to relieve state prison overcrowding, expand county jail space and provide health facilities for inmates. The project is actually the first in the state to use AB 900 Phase II funds, also known as the Local Jail Construction Financing Program established by the state Public Works Board.
The county plans on finishing off the current Public Safety Center expansion project with construction of a new re-entry facility. The state awarded $80 million to the county for the jail expansion and then $40 million for a new re-entry center. The re-entry center will include 288 beds of transitional jail housing as well as classrooms and resources for inmates who are within a year of release. The county awarded a $4.4 million contract for locally based Simile Construction to build the re-entry facility.
The new beds at the Public Safety Center will bring the jail’s total capacity to 552 beds. It could enable the Sheriff’s Department to vacate the antiquated men’s jail in downtown Modesto, which has become a liability for the county, reported The Modesto Bee. Because of the obvious needs that the new addition fills for the community, the project has not been met with protestors like some of the other prison and jail expansions in California.
Jill Silva, chief probation officer for Stanislaus County, said at the groundbreaking ceremony that programs are changing the lives of criminal offenders. The new jail facilities will include services for those struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse and addiction. The groundbreaking ceremony was mainly devoted to thanking county staff and many others who helped make the project possible.
The grant requirements state that the jail facilities need to be occupied by March 31, 2017.