The Yolo County Board of Supervisors‘ plan to locate a re-entry prison facility in the county has faced strong local opposition.
The Yolo County Farm Bureau, which represents farmers in the county, recently filed a lawsuit against the Board of Supervisors opposing plans to locate the facility in a rural part of the county near the town of Madison. Members of the farm bureau said there are several flaws with the proposed location of the prison facility.
“[The facility] is zoned in the agricultural reserve [in Yolo County],” said Tim Miramontes, president of the Yolo County Farm Bureau.
The proposed location for the re-entry facility not only violates county zoning laws, but also puts it in the middle of farmland, infringing on the county’s agricultural reserve, he said.
“Another major problem is there’s no facilities for health care or anything. The closest [city] is Woodland, which is about 15 miles away, so they have no emergency services,” Miramontes said.
The proposal has faced opposition from residents of Madison and the surrounding rural area who are against a prison facility being built as well.
“Yolo County is a very strong agricultural community, and we are seeing [this prison proposal] as a very big threat to the county,” Miramontes said.
The Yolo County Board of Supervisors has asserted that locating the prison facility in the county meets a vital public need for prison space and rehabilitation services.
“[The re-entry facility] would provide transition services at a lot more concentrated level,” said Dan Cederborg, assistant county counsel for the board.
While there is sufficient jail bond money from AB 900 to build the proposed facility, many local residents are against the plan, Cederborg said.
“There is general philosophical support for the concept but nobody wants it in their backyard,” he said.
If the proposed facility gets beyond the planning phases, it will inevitably become a project of the state rather than the county, Cederborg said.
“The lawsuit from our perspective is very premature – because all we’ve done is enter into discussions with the state in saying we will cooperate with them if they put a reentry facility in that area,” he added.
Overall, the board of supervisors believes it is a good idea if the project becomes a reality, Cederborg said.
“[It’s a good] idea that we need to provide people who are coming back out into society some sort of connection with services that will keep them from committing crimes again,” he said.
The re-entry facility is a new concept that is still in the planning stages in California. The facility would provide rehabilitation, job training, drug counseling and other services for inmates nearing the end of their sentences.
“Re-entry facilities are something that are new to California,” said Seth Unger, press secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “They were signed into law in 2007 [as part of the reformation of the California prison system].”
Assembly Bill 900 allowed these re-entry facilities to be built throughout the state, Unger said. Re-entry facilities are places for released inmates to return for the last 12 months of their prison sentence.
These facilities are meant to re-familiarize inmates with the county they were originally from, Unger added.
“[Inmates] would receive intensive rehabilitation programs,” Unger said. “[The offered programs] would aim to give the inmates the tools they need to be successful upon release.”
Officials at the CDCR believe that these facilities would ultimately discourage inmates from committing further crimes, he added.
“The goal is to stop the cycle of having an inmate be released from prison and commit a new crime because they are not re-familiarized with their community,” Unger said.
Yolo County and CDCR are still in the planning stages of the project, and the proposed site must still be evaluated to determine whether it suits the purposes of the facility.
CAITLIN COBB can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.