El Dorado County Jail gets expansion approval
South Shore’s El Dorado County Jail got the go ahead from federal court in October to add 54 bunks to its facility.
The expansion is expected to start in the spring or summer once the county has hired more corrections officers. The extra beds will cost the county about $50,000 and bring the bed count to 180.
“The rationale for adding that many beds is the projected steady population increase in the jail,” said El Dorado County Sheriff’s Capt. Bob Altmeyer. “In ten years it will be up to capacity. We can also use it as an overflow facility for Placerville. We’re constantly at capacity, which means we have to release people.”
A crowded cell in the South Shore jail may have inspired former inmate Linda York to file a lawsuit against the county in 1990. The suit was settled when the county agreed to provide 24-hour medical coverage to inmates and not have more people then they do beds.
The lawsuit was a reason the county wanted to clear the jail expansion with a federal court in Sacramento.
“There was a concern that the court may still want a hearing with respect to issues resolved in the lawsuit if the occupancy of the jail was expanded,” Altmeyer said. “But the settlement reached in original lawsuit basically precluded the court from any further monitoring.”
The jail expects to hire at least four correctional officers and the begin adding beds in increments to ensure that auxiliary facilities, such as the kitchen and laundry, can handle the extra work.
Lt. Les Lovell, jail commander, said he plans to add 15 to 20 beds per year starting some time in 2001.
“It went well for us,” he said. “We have the choice to limit our population cap. The ball’s in our court.”
A portion of the jail, redesigned and organized into pods in 1992, will not require any structural changes to accommodate additional inmates. Each of the six pods contain 16 cells.
“We are very fortunate,” Lovell said. “The way our facility is structured we’ll have more than sufficient room for housing the inmate population with double bunking.”
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