Butte County Sheriff's Office got the approval to apply for a jail expansion grant

OROVILLE, Calif. - The Butte County Sheriff's Office got the "go ahead" to apply for a $40 million state grant they hope will lead to a state of the art jail facility with room for more inmates.

The Sheriff's Office is optimistic about this approval.   They have been struggling to determine which inmates to release because of AB-109.

Since the passing of AB-109, the state's prison alignment bill, the Sheriff's Office says trying to manage inmates - has been a problem.
"It's a daily struggle to maintain our population.  Everyday our staff is making very difficult decisions," said Undersheriff Kory Honea.
Decisions such as to let inmates out early, due to lack of space has been daunting.
"That's one of the fears that keeps me up late at night," said Honea.  "Worrying about what impact that has on public safety."
"So I have a 1,000 people in custody and I have room for 600," said Captain Andrew Duch, the Butte County jail commander.

In 2010, the Sheriff's Office said they released 224 inmates because they didn't have any room, but in 2012 when AB-109 kicked in for a full year, they released 1847 inmates.
"And what that represents is about 40 years of time that ultimately wasn't served because they were released early," said Honea.
On Tuesday, Honea and his team went to the Board of Supervisors, asking to send a request for a grant that will hopefully give them $40 million to expand their jail.  All five supervisors agreed and gave them the go ahead.
"We were fortunately given authority by the board to submit that funding application to the state," said Honea.
"We will be building a multiple story structure on both of those sites.  We'll be inside of our own footprint and do the expansion that way," said Duch.
The overall plan is to tear down one of the dorm buildings that was built in the 1960's, and put it between the old jail house and the west facility center.
"So we have to look at every possible answer that we can come up with to help with this problem to keep the public safe and release these people to society better than when we found them," said Duch.

Butte County has to chip in more than $4.4 million for the grant.  The sheriff office says they will hear back from the state in January.

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