There could soon be a new state prison up Highway 113.
Yolo County has applied to host a new prison facility as part of California’s prison reform plan. Known as a re-entry facility, it would be a 150-bed prison for inmates who are near the end of their sentences.
The Yolo County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in March in support of locating the facility in Yolo County. Although a specific location has not yet been determined, it would be at the same site as the county jail in Woodland, said county supervisor Matt Rexroad.
The re-entry program would be open to state inmates who have six to 12 months remaining on their prison term and who have been identified by prison officials as at risk to commit more crimes. The program would provide rehabilitation services designed to help inmates reintegrate into society upon their release.
Allowing the re-entry facility to be built in Yolo County would open up the possibility of funding for an expansion of the county jail. A planned 148-bed expansion will cost the county $42 to $45 million, but the state could give the county as much as $30 million toward that expansion as part of AB900, a state prison reform bill passed in 2007, Rexroad said.
We have a large number of building needs in Yolo County, Rexroad said. It’s likely that [reimbursement] would go to fund other projects.
The county jail expansion is going to happen regardless of whether the county gets funding from the state, he added.
The re-entry facilities have been controversial. Critical Resistance, a grassroots anti-prison organization, has denounced the facility as just another prison.
The facilities were a way of trying to couch prison expansion as a prison reform bill, said Rose Braz, national campaign director of Critical Resistance. We agree that people need services when they come home, but this dramatically expands the number of people California can imprison.
Braz said Californians are ready for something other than just locking more people up.
No matter how nice you might make this look, it’s a prison, she said. You can call them re-entry facilities, you can put whatever name you want on them.
County supervisor Mariko Yamada said she was proud of the county’s willingness to host a re-entry facility.
It costs more to keep someone in prison than it does to rehabilitate them and help them become contributing members of society, Yamada said. If they have been convicted of criminal activities they should pay their debt to society by completing their sentence, but once their debt is paid we need to support them.
Yamada said construction of the facility would be paid for the by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, but other costs are unclear because it is so early in the process.
This is just the first step in a long series of steps toward bringing such a facility to Yolo County, she said. We’ve not signed on the dotted line that this is going to happen.
The department of corrections and rehabilitation is accepting requests for interest until Apr. 21.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.