Thursday, September 4, 2008
Monterey County will ask the state for more time to vet the location of a proposed reentry facility, says Supervisor Fernando Armenta, who chairs the reentry facility committee. He says the county will request a six-month extension on Sept. 18.
County officials want a written guarantee from the state that the property will only be used for an up-to-500 bed facility where inmates receive counseling and job training during the last year of their sentence. Supervisors also want assurance that the county will receive an $80 million state grant to expand the overcrowded jail in exchange for locating the facility in Monterey County. “If [the state doesn’t] resolve some of the guarantees,” Armenta says, “it’s going to make it very difficult for the county to go forward.”
Both Armenta and Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue talk tough about not supporting the reentry facility unless the state delivers an acceptable response to the county’s concerns. “If there is any possibility that this can turn into a state prison,” Donohue says, “I ain’t going to support it.”
Seth Unger, spokesman for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, says the state is required by Assembly Bill 900 to build reentry facilities and expand jails. But the county will also have to get approval from the state Public Works Board to receive the $80 million grant. “It’s not all in our hands,” Unger says.
The state also has to sign off on the reentry facility site– which is up in the air. Currently, the county has four options. Three of the sites are located on the county campus near the corner of East Laurel Drive and Natividad Road. But residents led by Jonabel Perez, who lives near the proposed sites, have collected hundreds of signatures opposing a reentry facility in Salinas.