New Jail Finished, But Money Problems Keep it Closed

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empty-placer-jailPLACER COUNTY-

Placer County’s new $93 million jail just outside Roseville is finished, but won’t see it’s first inmate for another year.

That’s because the county still has to come up with $6.5 million in yearly operation costs despite the fact that the main jail in Auburn is often at capacity with over 600 prisoners.

By law, inmates have to be released early or placed on probation once the jail reaches maximum capacity.

The  jail population has exploded after the state realignment shifted many state prison inmates to county facilities. The older jail has security problems because more violent inmates have to be taken through the jail visitations, medical treatment and classroom sessions.

Jailers say inmates with a prison  background are beginning to introduce gang influences and prison politics to the county jail where fights and altercations have become more violent.

The sheriff’s department says the new jail will make dealing with the new population of inmates safer and more efficient. But the county isn’t getting as much money from the state as it hoped.   That could change with the passage of the Proposition 30 tax increase.  The county must still weigh its other needs along with expanding its jail services.

Sheriff’s officials say the recession acted in its favor because construction costs were greatly reduced.  There were good deals to be had from contractors and suppliers desperate for work.

Still it could be the spring of 2014 before the new jail can be staffed for 240 inmates.  They say a phased opening of the facility is better than no facility at all.  Many counties are still in the planning stages of increasing jail space while Placer County saved money for the project over the past decade and was able to build its South Placer Jail without taking out loans.

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