Santa Clara County jail has over 1,000 empty inmate beds but officials are still hoping to receive state funds for an overhaul and expansion of the jail system. The estimated cost of the expansion is $104 million, not including the millions in operating costs each year.
Due to the new California realignment plan, counties all across the state are taking a closer look at their jail facilities. Many of them, like Los Angeles County, are already facing severe overcrowding in the jails. While Santa Clara County does not have an overwhelming influx of inmates, they have other issues.
Jails in Santa Clara are not built to hold inmates for extended periods of time. Cells may have wooden doors instead of metal and walls are Sheetrock instead of cinder block. Inmates have to spend 23 hours a day in small cells because of the lack of rehabilitation programs and secure workout areas. This goes against the whole purpose of realignment: rehabilitating inmates instead of only incarcerating them.
Along with the cost of the expansion, it will cost the county an additional $14 million annually in order to run the facility. This includes the hiring of an additional 119 deputies and jail staff.
Santa Clara County is number six in the line of counties seeking state funding for jail expansions. The state only has $300 million to go around for the larger counties. Eight counties are seeking $100 million from California to build with. The majority of funds will likely be given to counties with overcrowded jail facilities.