FAIRFIELD — Solano County will ask the state for $23 million for yet another possible Claybank Jail expansion, though one with a difference.
This proposed project wouldn’t involve building more cells. Rather, it would build a job training center to help inmates earn a living after they get released.
Job skills to be taught at the training center include driving trucks and buses, doing diesel mechanics, installing solar panels, wind turbines and other green energy sources, maintaining vehicles, doing body work and painting and cooking.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved forwarding the application to the state. The deadline is Thursday. The county could learn in mid-December if it will get the $23 million.
Supervisor Skip Thomson said the discussion the board had Tuesday about inmates was different from what it would have been in the 1990s.
“It would have been about locking them up and throwing away the key,” Thomson said.
Since then, society has found out it can’t afford to do that, Thomson said. Inmates who are simply locked up and released at the end of their sentences without getting additional help end up back in jail, he said.
Supervisors last discussed the vocational training center Sept. 10. They had positive comments for the idea at the time, though Chairwoman Linda Seifert wanted information on the required county match.
That match is almost $2.6 million. The county will get $1.3 million from county public safety developer fees and $440,000 from state public safety realignment money that comes to the county. The remaining $849,000 will be the land value of the county-owned site, the Board of Supervisors learned Tuesday.
“I think it’s a great investment of our county dollars,” Supervisor Erin Hannigan said.
Should the Sheriff’s Office get the state grant and build the vocational training center, it would have to run the new facility. It proposes to add a custody sergeant and correctional officer at an annual cost of $250,000 to address ongoing site security and other inmate-related issues.
A tentative schedule calls for construction to begin in May 2016 and be finished by August 2017.
Fairfield Mayor Harry Price signed a letter of support for the project. It is in Fairfield’s best interests that the Claybank Jail provide training and rehabilitation services to inmates serving long-term sentences under the state’s criminal justice realignment policies, Price wrote.
County Health and Social Services Director Ann Edwards wrote a letter to Sheriff Tom Ferrara. She noted her department works with the Probation Department’s Centers for Positive Change in Fairfield and Vallejo that help former inmates with life and job skills.
Solano County will use an “as inside, as outside” approach, with services inside the jail for inmates continuing when they get released, with the same contacts. Her department looks forward to working with the Sheriff’s Office on services related to the future Claybank Jail vocational center, Edwards wrote.
The county is building an $89 million jail expansion that will add 365 beds, bringing to total number of beds there to about 750. This project is to be finished next spring and is unrelated to the latest proposal.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.
This version updates the original to add additional comments and to include action taken by the Board of Supervisors.