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Planned Castaic jail project could move to Lancaster

Plan to house female prisoners at Castaic's Pitchess Detention Center may get the ax

Posted: October 23, 2013 9:56 a.m.
Updated: October 23, 2013 9:56 a.m.

SANTA CLARITA - County supervisors moved Tuesday to look at expanding a jail in Lancaster to house additional female inmates, a project that had originally been slated for Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to take $100 million originally earmarked for the project at Pitchess and put the money instead toward a similar project at the Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster.

“Mira Loma will provide a more suitable detention facility for women and alleviate overcrowding at other facilities,” said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who voted in favor of the item.

The $100 million comes in the form of a grant from Assembly Bill 900, which authorized billions of dollars in bonds to fund jail construction.

County officials cited cost and capacity benefits as reasons to build at Mira Loma. The Antelope Valley site would allow for 1,604 inmate beds, hundreds more than would have been available at Pitchess.

The location would also reduce the required net cost of the project to the county from $94.7 million at Pitchess to $10 million at Mira Loma, according to board records.

Another reason behind the site shift, according to county officials, is the slow progress of the project at Pitchess.

A county report stated the Board of State and Community Corrections, which would have to approve the transfer of AB 900 funds for the project to shift to Mira Loma, has “expressed grave concerns over the lack of progress on the Pitchess project due to the real estate title issues the county has encountered at the Pitchess site.”

Those issues would have to be resolved for the county to receive state funding for the project.

The funding shift will have to be approved by the Board of State and Community Corrections, which next meets in November.

If that board approves the shift, county officials will begin analyzing Mira Loma further and craft a detailed description of the project for approval, likely in fall 2014.

Tuesday’s vote also authorized the county to apply for up to $80 million in state funding to construct a 236-bed female reentry facility at Mira Loma.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas abstained from Tuesday’s vote.

“For far too long we have turned to incarnation instead of crafting innovative programs geared toward preventing recidivism,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement when asked why he abstained. “Moreover, I had — and still have — a strong sense that the proposal required further analysis and review.”

The women’s jail was originally proposed as part of a wider set of options to address the problem of overcrowding in county jails.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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