Contra Costa County needs greater investment in mental health treatment, job training, affordable housing, and youth services to help keep people from becoming incarcerated, not a larger West County jail.
Approving expensive new jail construction runs counter to the more fiscally responsible and humane strategy of investing greater resources in prevention and rehabilitation services. These cost-effective measures help keep people out of jail, reduce reoffending and improve public safety.
The recent 4-1 vote by the Board of Supervisors to spend $25 million in county funds and apply for $70 million from the state to add 416 high-security beds at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond comes at a time of budgetary uncertainty, with the county facing possible federal funding cutbacks from the new presidential administration.
The Prison Law Office, a well-respected nonprofit public interest law firm specializing in jail system reform, wrote to the Board of Supervisors that "The county would better serve its population by expanding efforts to reduce the jail population instead of expanding the capacity of its jails."
Here's a news report on the Board of Supervisor's recent vote.
The community has a chance to express opposition to this unwise jail expansion project
to the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC). The BSCC is the state board which will decide which Counties get state funding for jail projects.