STANISLAUS COUNTY — California Governor Jerry Brown and Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, once on opposite sides of the debate about “realignment,” sat side-by-side on Modesto on Tuesday for the unveiling of the new $89 million Stanislaus County Detention Facility.
Realignment is the plan, enacted by Brown, that shuffled lower-level offenders housed in state prisons down to county jails and led to the release of lower-level offenders in county jails back into the streets.
Christianson, who once sharply criticized realignment laughed at the irony of the position he found himself in Tuesday.
“I am one of the biggest beneficiaries of it,” Christianson said.
It’s the realignment plan that funneled $80 million in state funds into the brand new detention center in Stanislaus County.
The facility, more a campus than a jail, reflects a renewed focus on rehabilitation and release, with facilities dedicated to those inmates whose run-ins with the law are the result of mental illness or drug addiction.
And those aren’t the only things that are new.
When you first enter the brand new jail there is a row of numbered doors. They are visitation rooms. But right next to them, something else new.
“Its called video visitation. Quite frankly if you talk to the sheriffs in California they will tell you there are families that like that tool,” Christianson said.
Christianson says it’s a tool that even allows families the option of visits to inmates from remote areas.
But in 2013 California passed rules limiting the amount of video visitation that a jail can enforce. Under those rules, a sheriff must still provide the option of in-person visits.
That’s what will happen here, at the new Stanislaus facility.
But like everything here, at this facility geared toward rehabilitation and release, who gets video visits and who gets to visit in person will depend on how an inmate behaves.
“It really depends on their classification and whether or not they are a problem, and if they behave and take care of program opportunities. Everything we do is incentivized,” Christianson said.