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Plan to Rebuild 5,000 Bed Men's Central Jail Most Cost-Effective, Says County CEO

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011, at 08:11AM
Men's Central Jail Corey Bridwell/KPCC

First opened in 1963, Men's Central Jail currently houses approximately 5,000 inmates.

A $1.4-billion plan to rebuild Men's Central Jail is $500 million cheaper than private options to deal with the same number of inmates, says County CEO William Fujioka. He recommends that County supervisors move forward with early design and engineering, while at the same time continuing to study other options.

Supervisors expressed concerns over the rebuilding project last month. The project, which includes 1,156 beds for female inmates at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic along with a phased rebuilding of the 48-year-old Men's Central, would be almost entirely funded via bonds. The total cost including interest would be nearly $2.66 billion.

That number raised questions and concerns among the supervisors, who worried that expected staff cost savings from a more efficient design might not materialize. Those efficiencies are a large part of why Fujioka and Sheriff Lee Baca believe that the $2.66 billion project would save money over the 30-year life of the bonds.

A developer lease-leaseback option similar to the one being used in a $231-million renovation of the nearby Hall of Justice would actually raise the total project cost to $3.16 billion, Fujioka said in a report delivered last week.

The jail project was on the supervisors' agenda for Wednesday, but Fujioka has asked that it be tabled until December 20 to allow his office time to prepare a new report that would split a $13.2 million architectural and engineering contract into two phases and would include more direction on study of recently-enacted changes that send more state prisoners to the county.

Fujioka also pledged to study other sites and configurations for the jail project.

Men's Central Jail opened just north of Union Station in 1963. It currently houses roughly 5,000 inmates, but it has been plagued by issues stemming from overcrowding and antiquated design.

Fujioka's Report to County Supervisors

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