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Tuolumne County Turns Down Jail Funding: Sheriff Voices Concerns

Sonora, Ca — Tuolumne County Sheriff Jim Mele recently received word that the California Corrections Standards Authority had conditionally agreed to award $13,612,409 to help fund the construction of a new 260 bed jail facility.

When Kings County dropped out of the running to receive jail funding due to the lack of establishing a proper re-entry facility, Calaveras County moved up the ladder and was allocated the entire $26 million it had requested. This moved Tuolumne County up a notch, and into a position to receive $13.6 million.

CAO Craig Pedro says the County declined the offer, but will look to possibly receive money through a second phase of funding that is scheduled to become available through the AB 900 grant program.

?When the Board of Supervisors took this matter up several months ago, there were two versions of resolutions that made the County´s position very clear,? says Pedro. ?We wanted to keep ourselves eligible for later rounds of funding, but we were not prepared to accept funding at this time, even if it would have been at the $30 million level.?

Pedro adds that the County did not want to prejudice the land purchase that is being worked out and currently in the midst of an environmental review.

?It is quite frustrating,? says Sheriff Mele. ?I understand that times are difficult, and I understand that times are tough throughout the state. There were certain things that we would have had to do and some financial things that we would have had to look at. The fact of the matter is though, that it was $13 million.?

Mele went on by adding, ?My hope is that we would have been able to take the round one money, and then go back during round two to ask for further funding. The way that the state is currently going, I´m afraid that there won´t be a round two.?

Pedro adds, ?I share the Sheriff´s sentiment that that it is unfortunate that we have to turn down money from the state. The Board, as well as the Sheriff, would like to see a new jail facility built. We do need more funding, but we also need to have a complete financial package, which we do not have right now.?

Written by BJ Hansen