Plumas County ranked first among small counties that applied for jail construction funding under SB 844 and will be awarded $25 million to build a new jail.
There are still several steps in the process, but Sheriff Greg Hagwood hopes to break ground on the new facility next spring with construction completed in 2019.
“This is going to be a significant contribution to Plumas County,” Hagwood said during an interview May 18, one day after learning about the award. “It will fix a 50-year-old problem. It will give employees a safe, clean, efficient environment to work in, which will be a welcome change, and it will benefit the inmates by providing space to deliver services.”
He added that the construction will also provide ancillary benefits to local businesses, as the $25 million project will bring a variety of individuals into the county to work on the project.
Hagwood, Assistant Sheriff Dean Canalia and Jail Commander Chad Hermann were in Sacramento to hear the executive committee of the Board of State and Community Corrections discuss the applications and release its list of award recipients. He acknowledged that the drive home was much improved from the trip in November 2015, when Plumas County was unsuccessful in its bid for jail construction funds.
“It was a huge relief,” he said of this result. “There was excitement and optimism.”
When asked what changed between the failed attempt to secure the last round of jail funding and this year’s successful bid, Hagwood said, “We identified the deficiencies in our previous application, which were pre-release and pre-arraignment programs. With the help of the courts, the district attorney’s office, my staff and behavioral health we have implemented a number of new programs.”
Hagwood credited Stephanie Tanaka and the pre-arraignment release program for having a big impact, as well as Bob Brunson, the county’s behavioral health director, for implementing new mental health services in the jail.
“We made the programs functional and we could present a statistical demonstration of the results of these programs,” he said.
Hagwood also praised the correctional officers for keeping the sub standard facility viable for years. “The staff deserves the most recognition,” he said.
The new jail
The current jail has a 67-bed capacity, but Hagwood said its design prevents its ability to operate at capacity. The new jail is planned for 60 beds.
“That’s one of the aspects that made our application stand out,” Hagwood said. “Because we engage in pre-arraignment, pre-trial programs, the goal is to incarcerate only those who can’t safely be in the community.”
The new jail will be located “right behind the old jail, immediately adjacent and to the south,” he said.
Earlier attempts to site a new jail had been problematic with various locations being eliminated for a number of reasons, including the effort to use the Little League ball fields in the vicinity of the current jail. Neighbors put up stiff opposition citing safety, noise, lighting, traffic and other concerns. The old jail will be torn down once the new facility is operational.
Typically the state award requires a 10 percent match, but Hagwood asked that it be waived. There are still preliminary costs associated with the project that aren’t eligible to be reimbursed, but Hagwood said that he had money reserved in his budget to cover those expenses.
Hagwood will continue to work with the Board of Supervisors as the project progresses. “I want to thank the supervisors for their continued patience and support as we went through this process not once, but twice,” he said.
The award recipients ranked in order:
1. Plumas: $25 million
2. El Dorado: $25 million
3. Mendocino: $25 million
4. Lassen: $25 million
5. Mono: $25 million
6. Modoc: $24,516,000
1. Placer County: $30 million
1. Contra Costa: $70 million