MARTINEZ -- Contra Costa County's jails and the people who run them get mostly high marks from the county civil grand jury. But the main jail in Martinez, while well managed, is old and partially obsolete.
The Martinez Detention Center lacks space for classrooms and rehabilitative programs and thus hampers the county's efforts to implement the rehabilitative model of detention envisioned by the state under AB 109, popularly known as "realignment," the grand jury found.
The county's three adult penal facilities are run by the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office. The other two are the West County Detention Center in Richmond and the Marsh Creek Detention Center in Clayton.
The county also has two juvenile facilities run by the county Probation Department: John A Davis Juvenile Hall in Martinez and the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Center in Byron, often known as the boys' ranch.
The Martinez jail is a high-security facility, built 32 years ago to house 320 inmates, one to a cell. Currently, there are 646 inmates in the facility, which has a capacity of 695 based on two inmates typically sharing one cell.
The 1,000 capacity, medium-security West County jail currently houses 874 inmates, with 200 spaces reserved for women. The facility offers classes and training programs.
The low-security Marsh Creek jail is the oldest in the county, built in the 1930s. It currently houses 77 inmates, with a capacity for 150. Its relatively remote location makes it difficult for inmates' family members and friends to visit, the grand jury found.
Juvenile Hall is a modern facility while the boys' ranch is in need of renovation; both have good educational programs, the grand jury found.
The Sheriff's Office had hoped to add a 240-cell, 480-bed maximum-security wing to the jail in Richmond, but the state early this year turned down the county's application for $80 million from a $500 million Criminal Justice Facilities Construction fund.
The grand jury recommends the county apply for a construction grant from the state in the next round of funding.
Undersheriff Mike Casten, in an email Thursday, said there are no plans to modernize or replace the Martinez jail, and the Sheriff's Office will pursue funding for a high-security unit at the West County Detention Center, to include large areas for programs and classroom instruction.
The report "Contra Costa County Detention Facilities" is available on the Contra Costa Superior Court website at www.cc-courts.org/. Select "Jury Services/Grand Jury" and click on "Civil grand jury."
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at Twitter.com/tomlochner.