In Raucous Meeting, CA County Approves Jail Expansion

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A $25 million grant for a controversial jail expansion in Richmond, Calif., was approved this week by the Contra Costa County board, the last major hurdle for the project, reports the East Bay Times. Before their 4-1 vote, which authorized funds to complement a $70 million state grant for the $95 million project, the supervisors heard from a long line of speakers, almost all opposing the expansion. Many condemned the establishment of mental health treatment facilities there. The health care professionals, community activists and elected officials said the services planned for the jail would be better utilized in a non-jail setting.

Supervisor Candace Andersen said the county already spends $252 million a year on out-of-jail mental health programs. “Those of you who came here today don’t want to listen to the truth,” Andersen told a raucous crowd, which at various points sang “We Shall Overcome” and tried to shout down the supervisors’ comments. Supervisor Federal Glover told the protesters, “This is the people’s business being done here; you can be part of it, or you can be removed.” Andersen said some health and rehabilitation advocates have quietly supported the jail expansion and its 96 treatment beds but have shied away from taking a public stand.

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