Appeal jeopardizes Tulare County jail funds

The Fresno BeeMarch 11, 2014 

Funding for a new Tulare County jail project is in jeopardy after a state corrections panel on Tuesday approved an appeal brought by Stanislaus County that could shift $6.65 million in state dollars.

The appeals panel recommendation goes to the full Board of State and Community Corrections in Sacramento on Thursday for final approval.

A decision in January by the corrections board found that Stanislaus County had not submitted environmental documents, which removed the county from consideration despite a high project rating. In its appeal, Stanislaus County officials disputed the state's decision, saying the information was available but not required by state officials to be submitted in the county's original request for funding.

If the recommendation is upheld, Tulare County would lose $6.65 million of the $40 million awarded when the board approved jail projects in January. Stanislaus County would get $40 million to expand its existing public safety center in Ceres.

Tulare County is proposing a new $44.4 million jail that includes a $4.4 million county match. The planned jail has 388 beds at Sequoia Field near its existing facility, which has 302 beds.

Inmates would be housed in small groups. The new facility will include classrooms for education, behavioral therapy and vocational instruction. There also is space for cells to segregate inmates from the general population.

The recommendation also bumps San Joaquin County off the funding list. San Joaquin County had been awarded $33.35 million; it had requested $40 million for a new jail project.

In a news statement Tuesday, the appeal panel said Tulare County would instead move into San Joaquin County's slot and get $33.35 million.

Tuesday's decision affects only approval of projects in medium-sized counties.

Among large counties, Fresno County was awarded $79.2 million for a new $88 million jail project. Kings County got $20 million for a $21.05 million jail project in the small counties category.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.

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