Santa Clara County to Seek Funding for New Jail

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution on Aug. 11 to apply for state funding to support the construction of a new jail facility. The resolution will allow the county to seek SB 863 jail construction financing dollars to replace the outdated Main Jail South that was constructed in the 1950s.

“The existing jail was built at a time when the predominant use was for short-term incarceration,” said Chief Operating Officer Gary Graves in a statement. “Under AB109 realignment, stays are longer and the nature of inmates has changed. This project will make it possible to create space for programming and treatment and provide more mental health beds.”

The estimated cost of the replacement facility is approximately $243 million, according to a statement issued by the county. Approximately $80 million in funding would be available from the State of California lease-revenue bond funds under the SB 863, while the county would be responsible for the remainder. The supervisors expect to submit the application in advance of the August 28 deadline.

Should funding be provided, the county will construct a new 325,000-square-foot jail adjacent to the existing facility. The new jail would increase space for education, substance abuse treatment, job placement, life skills and other programs, as well as provide expanded mental health treatment capabilities. A dedicated re-entry services floor would serve both female and male inmates who have 90 days or less remaining on their sentence. Those inmates in particular would receive intensified programming, according to a statement by the county, and would be provided with medical, mental health and employment resources.

The new jail will likely contain seven floors. A public lobby, visiting area and control station will all be located on the first floor, with administrative offices, transportation operations and staff support areas on the second floor. Mental health and special management housing will fill out the third floor, and floors four through seven will be devoted to a variety of housing units. In total, the facility will contain 815 medium- to high-medium security beds.

“We have to work with the hand that we have been dealt under realignment,” said Public Safety and Justice Chair Supervisor Mike Wasserman in a statement. “We have to replace facilities that are half a century old and provide rehabilitation programs to lower the recidivism rate. This is about community safety.”

If the state awards the conditional funding, the county will have 120 days to decide whether to accept the grant. Board approval will be necessary before the administration can proceed with seeking bond funding to cover the remaining construction costs. The existing three-story, 133,000-square-foot Main Jail South is slated for demolition after construction is complete.