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Women’s jail at Pitchess proposed

Posted: October 12, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: October 12, 2011 1:30 a.m.

A new women’s jail proposed for Pitchess Detention Center will have to wait at least another couple of weeks before it’s approved, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday.

After listening to Sheriff Lee Baca and county officials explain the need for a revised jail plan that promises to alleviate overcrowding in county jails, some supervisors expressed concern over the plan’s $1.4 billion price tag.

“I’m not comfortable with this,” said District 3 Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “This is almost triple the biggest bond measure ever issued by the county.”

On Tuesday, officials with the county’s Chief Executive Office, sheriff’s epartment and the Department of Public Works jointly recommended the board green light early design efforts needed to develop the $1.4 billion Revised Jail Facilities Plan.

Instead of voting on it, however, the board decided to continue the matter for further discussion in two weeks.

More beds

Revisions made to the county’s existing jail plan call for the construction of housing for 1,156 “medium-to-low” security female inmates and a 26-bed clinic at Pitchess.

Tied to the plan is the demolition of both the Men’s Central Jail and the Central Arraignment Court in downtown Los Angeles.

Once the central jail is demolished, the county would replace it with three 10-story towers that include a 576-bed infirmary for male inmates and a 288-bed infirmary for female inmates.

Under the proposal, construction of the Pitchess Detention Center New Female Village Housing Project would be accomplished in one phase, according to papers prepared by the county chief executive officer for the board.

Tearing down the Men’s Central Jail and building its replacement, however, would be carried out in several phases.

The Men’s Central jail would be torn down after the new female housing facility at Pitchess is built.

The proposed jail plan — in addition to new housing for female inmates at Pitchess and replacement facilities for the central jail — would allow county jails to remain fully operational, county officials argued.

2016 opening

If, and when, the plan is approved by the board, both facilities are expected to be completed by the fall of 2018, with the new female village opening in early 2016 and the new main towers opening a year later.

Baca and county CEO William Fujioka called the revised jail plan “bold” and “aggressive.”

Yaroslavsky called it expensive.


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