If at first you don’t succeed

Congrats to the Sheriff and partners for pursuing the state jail funding

Two years ago Plumas County sought $20 million from the state of California to build a new jail and was unsuccessful. At the time Sheriff Greg Hagwood feared that there would not be another opportunity; that the state would not offer another round of jail construction funds. But he was wrong; the state did.

So he tried again and this month he learned that the county would be awarded $25 million — and that the Plumas application ranked first among the small counties that sought construction funds. Why the difference? Hagwood said he and his county partners discovered what was deficient in the 2015 application and addressed it.

Hagwood was able to demonstrate that the county’s approach to criminal justice was working — that various programs — from pre-arraignment to post sentencing — were working. That recidivism rates were down. It’s telling that part of the reason the application was successful according to Hagwood was because it called for fewer beds than the current jail’s capacity — 60, rather than 67. The state rewarded the county for its success with offering programs designed to rehabilitate rather than simply incarcerate.

The award means that Plumas County soon will have a correctional facility designed to improve the working conditions of staff, as well as the ability to extend needed services to inmates. For a facility that had been working under a consent decree, this is a huge step forward. It also means it will no longer be part of the grand jury’s annual report of areas in the county that need to be addressed.

Beyond the obvious benefits of having a functional facility, the county will reap the rewards of having a $25 million building project. The design and construction process will boost local businesses — everything from motels, RV parks and restaurants to gas stations and grocery stores. There is also the opportunity for local builders and subcontractors to be involved in the project. “We are committed to utilizing local contractors and material providers (lumber, concrete and other goods) to the full extent possible,” Hagwood said. “This will bring business to so many interests in the county.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Lori Simpson said that she and her fellow supervisors were thrilled with the award. “Under the sheriff’s leadership everyone in the county worked together to make it happen. We have to thank the sheriff and his staff; they were at the table and made many trips to Sacramento,” she said. “This will solve a lot of issues and make our criminal justice system even better.”