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Countdown Continues For Calaveras County Jail Vote

San Andreas, CA — Calaveras County Sheriff Dennis Downum does not mince words, “We need a new jail and we need it right now.”

The current jail was opened 44 years ago when the population stood at 12,000. While the county´s population has reached 48,000 the jail has a court ordered capacity of only 65 inmates.

In the first half of this year 400 inmates gained early release. 19 percent were re-arrested, some as many as six times. 45 years of jail time has gone unserved over the past two years. Last year 499 inmates received early release. Over the last 10 years 219 years of time went un-served by inmates due to early release.

The current facility is a linear design that requires a large staff to visually supervise inmates. Most of the modern designs are based on a podular design allowing for one correctional officer to have visual supervision of the entire facility.

According to AB900 approved counties will be receive 75 percent funding from the state. Counties would have to provide the remaining 25 percent. The Board of Supervisors has approved of Ballot Measure J which calls for the issuance of $31 million of bonds. According to Downum the average cost over the life of the bonds would be in the neighborhood of $18.37 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. Property valued at $500,000 would cost the taxpayer $91.85 per year or $7.65 per month.

The Calaveras County Grand Jury stated that, “the county is beginning to see epidemic increases in drug offenses and gang activity. Early released offenders often go back to their previous criminal activity.”

The election is set for Tuesday, November 6.

Written by Bill Johnson