Sonora, CA — Construction bids are due early next month, and a groundbreaking should come in late November for the $39-million Tuolumne County Jail.
The new artist rendering pictured shows what the 63,000 sq. ft. facility will look like upon completion in summer of 2019 at the law and justice center site off Old Wards Ferry Road. It will be nearly two-times the size of the current jail in downtown Sonora, which is 31,157 sq. ft. The new jail will have the capacity to house 240 inmates and the existing jail holds 147.
Deputy County Administrator Maureen Frank notes that a notable addition will be a new medical clinic with three exam rooms, a dental room and a waiting area. The existing jail has a single medical exam room and inmates sit outside if it is being utilized. In addition, there will be more office space for nurses and a medical records room.
The new laundry area will include three washers and dryers, whereas the existing jail has one washer and two dryers.
The future jail will have eight different housing areas for various classifications of inmates, something not possible at the current jail. In addition, the exercise/recreation areas will be right next to the housing units, creating a safer environment for staff and inmates. Currently all inmates are transported to the recreation area on the roof of the jail. The new jail will also feature 10 program rooms.
Deputy CAO Frank adds that the food service area will be much expanded, with a larger kitchen and food storage on site allowing for more “economies of scale” such as bulk buying. She says there will also be a more “well thought out” administrative office area, as the current facility has some “closets turned into offices.”
$33-million of the project’s overall construction costs will come from state grant money, $20-million from SB 1022 and $13-million from AB 900. The remaining $6-million will be covered by the county, which is still finalizing its long-term borrowing plan.
Despite the economies of scale, with the increased size, it is going to cost quite a little more money to run the new jail. Frank notes that six additional full-time positions will be required, bringing the total to 55. Overall operational costs, coming from the General Fund, are estimated to increase by $1,187,000 during the first year of operation, fiscal year 2019/20. Costs will go from the current $7.1-million to $8.3-million.