Monterey County Jail Breaks Ground on Expansion Project

By Rachel Leber

SALINAS, Calif. — The Monterey County Jail in Salinas broke ground on an expansion project on Sept. 18. The long-awaited expansion represents decades of work by former sheriffs in Monterey County to create the vision for a more modernized jail for the county.

The original jail was built in the 1970s, with more additions being built over the past 45 years, with the most recent being added in 1995. The new two-story facility will have two mezzanines that will offer a greater ability to oversee inmate activity, and will add 570 beds to the facility, bringing the total capacity of the jail to about 1,400 inmates. The budget for the project is $88.9 million. Lionakis in Sacramento, Calif., is the architect on the project, with the Amoroso Construction Co. in Redwood City, Calif., serving as the general contractor. Construction on the new facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Another goal of the expansion will be to transform the layout of the facility from open “dorm-style” housing units to two-person housing cells. Additionally, instead of various support facilities being spread out across the property as in the previous iteration, each housing unit will instead have its own space for programming. Medical exam rooms and yards will also be attached to the individual units.

The new jail will reflect an increased focus on rehabilitation as well as long-term care. Some of the resources and classes brought to the housing programming space will include anger management and job development classes.   

The changes to the jail are intended to support rehabilitative efforts for inmates in addition to making the jail safer for inmates and staff. “The facility will bring programming to the inmates rather than escorting inmates to programming, programming that helps the inmates prepare for life outside of the facility, and hopefully, not re-enter this facility,” said Steve Bernal, Monterey County sheriff, in a recent interview with “This is one of our goals.”

Bernal credited former Sheriff Mike Kanalakis who helped to obtain the initial $40 million through Assembly Bill 900 for the project in 2009. Additionally, in 2012, then-Assemblyman and current Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo helped secure another $40 million in state funding for the project, according to Bernal. In addition, Monterey County is providing a 10 percent match ($8.9 million) for the project.