Close to home
County picks a site for reentry facility.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
After months of scouting far-off spots in Soledad and even Fort Ord, Monterey County has found a state reentry facility site closer to home. A county ad hoc committee wants to put the prisoner rehabilitation center next to the old Natividad Hospital in Salinas, says Sheriff Mike Kanalakis.
“We are hopeful that we’ll be able to work with the city of Salinas in trying to present this to the community in a united front,” Kanalakis says.
A Salinas City Council subcommittee also supports the location. “As long as it stays on the county campus I’m happy,” Councilwoman Jyl Lutes says.
On May 8, Kanalakis announced that the state, under Assembly Bill 900, would award the county an $80 millio.n grant to expand the jail in exchange for a site to build the reentry facility. City leaders balked at earlier proposed locations outside the city of Soledad and on Constitution Boulevard in Salinas. Lutes says it makes sense to locate the facility near the county jail and juvenile hall.
State officials, who viewed the site last week, have some reservations, however, Kanalakis says. “They want a flat piece of land and that particular parcel is going to take some improvements,” he says. Kanalakis says the county will pay for the grading and engineering, although he couldn’t provide a cost estimate.
The facility will be six to eight acres and will likely house between 300 and 500 beds, Kanalakis says. There is room for the facility despite plans to build a new health department building, juvenile hall and expand the jail by 445 beds, he says. “We are working on a master plan for all of that” he says, “and it would fit in nicely.”
The reentry program would only be open to Monterey County residents, he says. “The end game is to lower recidivism,” Kanalakis says. “This will offer the opportunity for inmates who are within one year of release from the state prison system to participate in a transitional program instead of being released directly back into the community with a bus ticket.”
But other hurdles remain. The county needs to come up with $50 million to build the jail and more than $11 million a year for staffing costs. The Board of Supervisors has endorsed a sales tax to raise the money.
Supervisors are expected to weigh in on the reentry facility location at their July 22 meeting.