VC Supervisors to consider Todd Jail expansion grant application Tuesday

September 27, 2013
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors will consider a grant application Tuesday to expand Todd Road Jail, a potential move formally objected to by the Santa Paula City Council.

Earlier this month a council majority 4-1 voted to adopt a resolution condemning the county’s proposal to apply for a $35 million grant to expand Todd Road Jail; subsequently, Councilman Jim Tovias visited the Ventura City Council to voice objections to the plan during public comment. Councilman Martin Hernandez was the only councilman who opposed the resolution.

The grant application to be submitted by Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean would provide an additional 64 beds at Todd Road Jail for prisoners with mental illnesses or chronic health conditions.

At past council meetings some officials criticized the county for failing to notify the city in July when the Board of Supervisors approved Dean’s request to complete the grant application. 

Dean, who appeared before the City Council last month, was the featured speaker at Monday’s Santa Paula Rotary Club meeting where he urged members to attend the  October 1 supervisors’ hearing, starting at 8:30 a.m. and voice their opinion on the proposed expansion.

During his wide-ranging presentation Dean brought up the jail issue, noting, “I’m not one to run from a fight,” over the 64-bed jail expansion, which he said would free up enough space at the Main Jail in Ventura to create 150 beds for general population, an urgent need with realignment as well as the 50-plus county gangs that must be separated even behind bars.

The proposed new 4,280 square foot one-story building at the Todd Road Jail is approximately a 2 percent increase to facility’s 227,000 square foot footprint; its population would add a less than 8 percent increase to the current census of about 750 beds. 

The Main Jail in Ventura, “Is close to capacity,” and those occupying the proposed expansion would not require full-time treatment or nursing care. “If they need to go to the hospital we’ll take them to the hospital,” said Dean.

Dean noted supervisors’ hearings start at 8:30 a.m. and “Everyone is welcome to come and make comments.... “

During the question and answer session a Rotarian asked about the jail’s proximity to Briggs School and what actions would be taken if an inmate escaped.

“We’ve never had an escape,” or even a notable disruption at the jail itself said Dean. “If anyone escapes we would capture them.... “

Generally, those incarcerated at Todd Road Jail and the county’s main jail have committed “less violent crimes,” and the former also houses approximately 220 women prisoners.

The Todd Road Jail was the focus of a lawsuit by the city and environmental groups against the county in the early-1990s. The jail was to be built in phases but only the first was completed, about a quarter of the initially planned 2,300-bed facility.

The Todd Road Jail hearing will be October 1 at 8:30 a.m. at Ventura County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura.

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