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  • Hector Amezcua /

    Lt. Dennis Walsh, with the corrections division of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, shows a pod Thursday that will house prisoners at the new jail, set to open in the next few weeks.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Lt. Dennis Walsh explains a teleconference system that will be used by inmates who are not allowed to see visitors through a glass window. Officials say the new jail is a major upgrade from the jail in Auburn.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Inmates who have visiting privileges will be able to speak to visitors by phone while seeing them through a secure window.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Dennis Walsh, Lt. Corrections Division with Placer County, shows a cell that is ADA compliant.

  • Richard Chang /

    The exterior of the new jail, with its oversized windows and pastel colors, looks more like a modern office building than a county lockup.

Placer County Sheriff’s officials preview new Roseville jail

Published: Thursday, May. 29, 2014 - 10:01 pm

Placer County sheriff’s officials Thursday previewed a new jail in Roseville that was built to help accommodate a growing population and that incorporates designs and new technology for increased operational efficiency.

The South Placer Jail is expected to begin operation in the next few weeks, after personnel funding issues delayed its opening for about a year. The $100 million facility on Go For Broke Road, next to the Santucci Justice Center, was completed last year.

The 420-bed jail is a needed addition to the county correction system, which in recent years has buckled under a spurt of population growth and additional responsibilities from realignment. The state policy, implemented in 2011, shifted nonviolent criminals from state prisons into county jails.

From the outside, the 191,000-square-foot structure, with its oversized glass window facades and pastel colors, looks more like a modern office building than a county jail. It features state-of-the-art technology, including energy-efficient lighting and electronic kiosks where inmates can special-order items from the commissary. Officials are in the process of obtaining Silver LEED certification, a set of energy efficiency ratings developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The 420-bed jail was designed to accommodate the county’s future population growth, which has occurred largely in the southern suburbs of Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln. The facility can easily be expanded to accommodate up to 980 prisoners, said Lt. Dennis Walsh, who works in the corrections division of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

During a tour Thursday, construction crews were putting on the finishing touches and corrections staff – some donning orange jumpsuits – participated in training exercises.

Officials say the Roseville facility represents a huge upgrade from the existing Placer County jail in Auburn because of new technology and design techniques that make operations more efficient. For instance, prisoners will be able to visit with family and undergo medical checkups from their housing pod.

“In Auburn, we had to move inmates all the time to visitation, to court, to medical. It was like air traffic control,” Walsh said. “When they designed this facility ... rather than move the inmate to the service, we bring the service to the inmate.”

The Auburn facility was built in the 1980s, with an original bed count of 109. Over the years, capacity was added to total 646 beds, including dormitory-style housing in a World War II-era barracks.

At the Roseville location, each housing cell features a speaker system that allows inmates to communicate with guards. Most cells have two beds, along with a stainless steel sink and toilet. All of the doors are controlled using an electronic locking mechanism.

The housing pod features a multipurpose room, where religious services and other community programs will be held. There is also a small exercise area with a window.

Asked whether the Roseville jail was any more comfortable than the one in Auburn, Walsh laughed and said, “Uh ... it’s cleaner.”

During the first phase of opening, South Placer Jail will house 240 inmates, a mix of minimum security and sentenced prisoners. Sheriff’s officials declined to give an precise opening date, citing security concerns.

Food services manager Renee Harvey expects meals will be tastier, now that they’re being prepared in a 35,000-square-foot kitchen that can produce up to 12,000 meals a day for both Auburn and Roseville.

“All the bread is made from scratch,” Harvey said, pointing to a slew of food processors and other equipment.

On Thursday, about 20 minimum-security inmates staffed the kitchen, which is already in operation. The inmates, wearing fishnet hats, looked curiously at the television cameras and journalists gathered in the kitchen.

Walsh said opening the facility in Roseville made sense because most of the county’s arrests happen in the South Placer area.

During an earlier interview, Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner said the Roseville facility will give his department more flexibility.

“We’re housing people who are more sophisticated in their criminal behavior,” Bonner said.

The facility’s opening was delayed for roughly a year until the county had the funds to hire the three dozen extra personnel needed to run the jail. Officials project first-year operational costs will be $9.6 million. The county paid for the jail without issuing bonds.

Call The Bee’s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

Read more articles by Richard Chang

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