Supes Approve Unfunded Jail Expansion

The new majority on the Shasta County Board of Supervisors has approved an expansion of the jail in downtown Redding, although how the construction would be funded and how the facility would be staffed are two questions that are anything but clear. Sheriff Johnson was out of town so a presentation was made by Undersheriff Brian Jackson. He said the benchmark being used to figure the cost is $400,000 to $500,000 per jail bed for new construction. Current operating costs for the existing jail are around $24 million annually. The full capacity of the jail is 484 inmates, but with the partial closure due to the staffing shortage the capacity is 324 beds. The proposed expansion would add 256 beds. The glaring issue for jail operations is that not enough people can be found who are willing to work in the jail. There are 11 unfilled correctional deputy positions and no indication that they can be filled anytime soon. Newly elected Supervisor Kevin Crye suggested a “reserve correctional deputy” program but it’s not known from where the pool of reserves would be drawn. The Board, with Mary Rickert dissenting, approved moving forward with a $111 million expansion of the downtown jail while looking ahead at a much more expensive 1,000 bed jail campus at the edge of town to be built later. Funding for the short term project would presumably come from the federal ARPA grant, but county counsel Rubin Cruze and others have said that using that money would be against the rules unless the facility had programs that provided various social services to inmates