Lack of jail bed space has been an ongoing problem for Shasta County for years.
But it finally looks like there could be, not just one, but many solutions to that problem.
The Shasta County Board of Supervisors met for their regular meeting Tuesday.
They focused heavily on the issue of jail bed space, or lack thereof, and voted on several measures to possibly increase jail capacity by up to 160 beds.
The meeting went on for nearly four hours as presenters addressed the board with several options to make more room for criminals in an already crowded jail.
Some talked about increasing efficiency in the current jail, but board chair Les Baugh said the most important and urgent thing the county needs right now is jail bed capacity.
“The number one issue in the county is jail bed capacity,” Baugh said. “And as I mentioned number two is jail bed capacity and number three is jail bed capacity. So the first step is, we authorized by unanimous action the expenditure of up to a million dollars to enhance the current jail to comply with state regulations.”
That move would make it possible to immediately increase existing jail capacity by as much as 60 beds, an idea originally brought forth by Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko.
“That's going to require some infrastructure changes in the jail,” Bosenko said. “But we're going to be looking for a waiver from the Board of State Community Corrections to see if we can move forward with the expansion much quicker and ahead of time to get those beds that the community needs.”
Another option presented by Bosenko and approved today is to convert Shasta County courtrooms 1 and 2 into jail space if and when the new courthouse is finalized.
“That could give us up to another 100 beds plus maybe some capacity for rehabilitation space,” Baugh said.
The third option is to look into hiring outside consultants to look at ways to improve efficiency at the county jail.
Bosenko said he's happy with the decisions made by the board of supervisors and the options look promising.
“It was a good meeting today, and progress was made,” Bosenko said.
Baugh said, making jail space a priority is crucial to improving public safety in Shasta County.
“Bottom line, we need accountability and we need justice in Shasta County,” Baugh said. “Jail capacity is the way to move forward with it.”
Baugh said the county plans on having a second public safety workshop sometime in the near future to discuss and gather input from the public on these new options.
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