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Adelanto jail expansion largest in state
ADELANTO • The captain of the jail heaved open a thick metal door, revealing a well-lit corridor covered in a thick coat of cream-colored paint.
“This paint is actually MRSA resistant,” said Captain Jon Marhoefer, referring to a potentially deadly strain of bacteria that is antibiotic resistant. “It kills on contact.”
Marhoefer, who has been the captain of the Adelanto Detention Center since 2007, is talking about the newly expanded jail that is set open by November 2013. This is the largest jail construction in the state right now, according to Marhoefer, and was the first jail to begin construction after Assembly Bill 900 was passed in 2006. Marhoefer said that a portion of funds from this $1.2 billion assembly bill were granted to facilities that experienced a high need and had the land availability.
“We were the first jail to break ground from this bill, and the first jail to be finished,” Marhoefer said.
Marhoefer credits the efforts of 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt for the additional facilities, saying that his efforts are what drove the expansion process, thanks to a number of resolutions and agreements that Mitzelfelt took the lead in creating.
The jail expansion will add 1,392 new beds to the 706 existing beds, tripling its current capacity. Because of Assembly Bill 109 and the effects of prison realignment, Marhoefer said that this expansion comes at a time when it is most needed.
“This makes sure that inmates who need to be kept in custody stay in custody,” Marhoefer said, explaining that the average jail sentence is 22 months. Because of prison overcrowding, there’s more of a demand on jails to house inmates for longer periods of time. “This building put us in a good potion to handle realignment. Ninety-nine percent of everybody who gets arrested gets released — we have an obligation to the citizens to try to impact the crime rate and recidivism.”
Andy Silva, a spokesman for Mitzelfelt, said that the new high-security jail is meant to accommodate the worst-of-the-worst.
“They’re the only ones being incarcerated now anyway,” Silva said.
The new jail — with a price tag of $120 million — was constructed with a booking facility, two dental chairs, an X-ray machine and a floor plan that minimizes inmate movement. The two-person cells are 70 square feet and are designed with multiple security features that keep both inmates and prison personnel as safe as possible, said Marhoefer.
Because of demographic shifts, Marhoefer said that the floor plan is also adaptable, and was built to accommodate shifts in the jail population in the future.
“Currently, a jail is 80 percent male, 20 percent female,” Marhoefer said. “If that changes, a future captain will be able to easily adjust the jail so it suits the needs of the community.”
The jail is designed to minimize contact between the inmates and the public, Silva and Marhoefer said. Each housing unit has its own video office that allows inmates to communicate with visitors remotely, which they hope will drastically reduce contraband. Each housing unit will be self-contained, meaning that inmates will not have to leave their units to reach a nurses office, a recreational room and educational facilities.
The booking facility also will also allow patrol deputies to get back on the streets after an arrest is made instead of having to drive down the hill to West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga said Marhoefer.
“It’s three hours minimum to book a suspect,” Silva said. “An hour down to West Valley, an hour to book and an hour to make it back up hill. That translates to lots of man hours back on street.”
Marhoefer said that one of the greatest challenges of the expansion has been maintaining a high-security functional jail during construction, a feat they accomplished by learning about what works and what doesn’t from jails that have undergone similar processes. Marhoefer explained that the jail expansion has also created 500 jobs over the past three years. And once it’s completed, it will be staffed by an additional 270 employees.
“We’ve been working on this since April of 2006,” Marhoefer said. “It’s nice to see it finally come together.”
Lynnea Lombardo may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at LLombardo@VVDailyPress.com.
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