Fresno County in line to win $80 million for new jail

Fresno County is in line for $80 million in state funds to build a brand new three story jail building.
December 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Fresno County is in line for $80 million in state funds to build a brand new three story jail building. Sheriff Margaret Mims said it's badly needed to replace the county's oldest jail building.

"It was built in 1941 it's very inefficient to maintain it's very inefficient to staff. And now we need programming space as a result of realignment so we are in sore need of replacing that building with a new, more modern building," Mims said

While the old south annex jail is expensive to maintain and operate it holds about 500 inmates. The new jail would hold only three hundred.

"This project will take five years to complete before we are able to move any inmates into a new building, so between now and then we have our job cut out for us to try and lessen the need for jail beds," Mims said

Mims added the County is already working on streamlining the court process to move inmate out of jail faster and on community programs that emphasize rehabilitation rather than jail.

While the state is putting up most of the money for the jail, the County is required to provide a ten per cent match. County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian says that's a lot of money for the county right now.

"It's really the 8 million, the ten per cent match, whatever you want to call it it's going to be $8 million that's 8 million we don't have for anything else for the next 3 or 4 years," Poochigian said.

The County would commit funds from county's share of state Tobacco bond money. The state would also require the county to keep the building used for 30 years. Despite the issues, Poochigian and other members of the board appear to be in support.

"Great opportunity I think we've go to look at it, sounds pretty good so far." Poochigian said.

A final decision from the state comes in the middle of January, and then it will be up to the board of supervisors to decide if the county can afford to accept.

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