For several decades, Roseville has operated its own version of a small-town jail, a place where drunks and petty thieves spent a night in a cell to sober up and learn a lesson or two.
The regulars colloquially refer to it as “Roseville hotel,” so quaint are its operations. Correctional supervisor Carter Christiansen recalled the time he heard that a couple in a domestic violence dispute were devout vegetarians, and he hopped over to Whole Foods to find two salads to accommodate them.
But the jail, which sits in the basement of Roseville Police Department headquarters, is expected to close next year when Placer County’s new jail down the street becomes fully operational.
“Jails are basically a county function,” said Roseville police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther. “It’s very unusual for a city to operate one. Now that we’re going to have a county jail right here in town, it doesn’t make sense to operate one.”
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Roseville officials plan to transform the jail into a processing center, which doesn’t require correctional officers. The move would save about $823,000 annually. Gunther said the closure would also eliminate a liability for the city because jails are often the target of lawsuits.
During a recent tour of the jail, Christiansen reminisced about the good times. Having the jail in the city had many benefits, he said.
In the days before the new south county jail in Roseville was built, the city jail was convenient for officers patrolling 20 miles from the main county facility in Auburn. Rather than having to make a trip up the hill, officers could drop off criminals and return to their beat.
The jail also has allowed police to book and release people, even for minor crimes such as shoplifting. Christiansen said this had a positive effect on the community and served as a warning for youths.
“They’re in the system,” Christiansen said, adding that the slamming of jail doors and the booking process can impact individuals, especially minors, and get them to change their behavior.
The closure also will mean the end of a program that allowed people convicted of lower-level crimes to serve jail time in increments. People could “check-in” and stay for 12-hour periods at $60 a visit. Gunther said the popular service allowed people to keep their jobs.
More than 30 individuals used the service last year, mostly for misdemeanor crimes such as DUI offenses, generating $26,000 for the city. Violent offenders are prohibited from participating.
“This jail has been a huge blessing for the community,” Gunther said.
Police officers plan to continue to use the processing center to book and release people who commit minor crimes such as shoplifting and certain DUIs. Violent criminals would be taken directly to the South Placer Jail.
Gunther said they hope to retain the same deterrent effect with the changeover to the processing center.
“It’s a much more serious matter than if the officer just handed a ticket out at the store,” Gunther said, referring to shoplifting cases.