BACKGROUND: The Fremont Police Detention Facility at 1990 Stevenson was built in 2002 as a Type 1 facility with an overall capacity of 96 inmates. It is the largest Type 1 facility in Northern California and the only one constructed with a Direct Supervision floor plan. The housing unit in the facility has five pods with a total of 54 beds. Additionally, in the booking/holding unit, there are four temporary holding cells, three sobering cells and one safety cell. The maximum time an inmate can be held in this facility is 96 hours. Historically, the entire capacity of the facility has never been used, and capacity rarely exceeds 30 inmates at one time.
Because the facility is not used to its capacity, there is an opportunity to utilize beds for revenue in an alternative confinement (“Pay-to-Stay”) program. A Pay-to-Stay program allows a sentenced misdemeanor defendant, at the direction of a judge, to serve his or her sentence in a local facility rather than in the county jail. A daily amount is charged by the local facility to provide this option. Pay-to-Stay programs are common in Southern California, but are currently non-existent in Northern California. There are approximately 15 Pay-to-Stay programs in Southern California, and the daily charge ranges from $85.00 to $255.00 per day.
DISCUSSION/ANALYSIS: County jails, with the advent of State-imposed Realignment, are under increasing pressure to release sentenced inmates at rates that are less than their court-imposed sentences. The recent pressure on the State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to release inmates will exacerbate the problem at the county level. The county jails will likely become busier and more crowded, with more serious and experienced offenders making up the bulk of the inmates. The Fremont Detention Facility is uniquely positioned to fill a gap that will allow sentenced misdemeanants to serve their sentences at a place other than the county jails.
There are three basic components that drive the success of a Pay-to-Stay program: the Courts, the sentenced Participant, and the Detention Facility. The interests of each component include the following:
· Expect that the Detention Facility will ensure that the imposed sentence is fully served.
· Expect that Participants will have no special comforts over any other inmate, e.g., specialty foods options, the ability to profit while serving time in jail by conducting normal business activities, or any other generally prohibited conduct.
· Expect every Participant to be treated equally despite status in the community or celebrity.
· Expect accurate documentation from the Detention Facility.
Police Department staff spoke with the Deputy District Attorney for the Fremont, Newark and Union City court, who in turn spoke with the District Attorney. As a result of those conversations and the information presented, the District Attorney’s Office has no objection to the program and believes it fills a need in Alameda County.
Staff also met with the Presiding Judge of the Fremont, Newark and Union City court, who then reviewed the proposal with other judges. After having their questions answered and receiving clarifying information, the Presiding Judge advised that the court has no issues with the program. In addition, staff has met with representatives from the Alameda County Sheriff’s office, and they too are in support of the program.
While initially opening the program only to defendants convicted in Alameda County, the City may choose to open this alternative confinement program to other counties as well, at some point in the future.
There are three basic interests that a participant in an alternative confinement program has:
· Personal Security: Participants want a safe and secure experience. Their largely media-driven fear about assaultive behavior in jail is the single biggest reason for opting for Pay-to-Stay. The Fremont Detention Facility would use a screening process to limit Participants based on factors including felony convictions, prior criminal conduct, medical issues, and criminal gang affiliation.
· Cost: Some misdemeanants will opt for county jail to serve their time because it is free. But many convicted misdemeanants would pay a reasonable amount to avoid county jail and serve their sentence in a smaller facility. Fremont will be able to provide that service.
· Convenience: Participants want a facility that is close to their residences and easy to get to. They do not want to travel a great distance or long time to serve their sentence. The Fremont Detention Facility is near two major freeways and within walking distance of BART. There is adequate free parking across from the Detention Facility.
The Detention Facility: The City’s interests are participant safety, management of participants, management of staff assets, and revenue objective.
· Participant Safety: The Fremont Detention Facility has an excellent record of safe and secure inmate interaction. The housing pods are completely separate from the intake and temporary holding facilities, where disruptive behavior is most likely to occur. The housing pods are designed to allow visual monitoring of the inmates, which minimizes the opportunity for hostilities. The numerical limitations of the housing pod encourage a small group mentality with limited conflict exposures. It is a clean, quiet facility in excellent physical condition. The food is fresh and nutritious. All of these elements work together to promote a safe and secure environment.
· Management of Participants: In order to ensure participant and staff safety, and increase staff efficiency, screening of participants will have specific requirements, including, but not limited to, the following:
1. No felony convictions.
2. No convictions for sex crimes that place staff or other participants at risk.
3. No drug offense convictions that tend to show a pattern of heightened criminal sophistication or addictions.
4. No major medical issues.
5. No prior convictions for assaults or threats on public safety personnel.
6. No criminal gang affiliation, either claimed or in criminal history.
7. No prior history of failing to comply with any pay-to-stay program rules.
8. No more than four consecutive days at a time can be served.
· Management of Staff Assets: The impact on Detention Facility staff time for this program will be minimal. Checking-in participants, logging their property, and providing meals will take the bulk of their time. Staff believes the facility can easily manage 16 full time participants over a weekend or other duration shorter than four days. Participants will be entered into the Corrections Management System (CMS) software when they arrive. This system will provide the documentation for the participant’s stay in the facility, even if their court commitment was from another county. There will be no special food or items allowed, nor will there be any privileges beyond those of any other inmate. Food and laundry service will essentially be the same.
· Revenue Objective: The alternative confinement program presents an opportunity for the city to create a revenue stream with no significant impact to current staffing or expenditures to the budget. It is not a cost-recovery program; rather, it is a proprietary service. Rates in the established programs in Southern California range from $85 to $255 depending on location. Staff is proposing a mid-range rate of $155 per night to start the program, which will be evaluated on an ongoing basis to determine whether an adjustment is appropriate. The Fremont Detention Facility has a capacity of 54 beds, most of which are never filled. If one housing pod - a total of 16 beds – were used and filled each weekend, that would equate to 1,664 stays per year (16 beds x 2 days x 52 weeks = 1,664). The agencies that provide these programs indicate that they generally have a few people, perhaps 2-4, who stay during the week and they do not always fill their Pay-to-Stay beds every weekend. Accordingly, staff conservatively estimates an initial participation rate in this program of 50% (or roughly 800 stays per year). At the rate of $155 per night, this would amount to $124,000 per year.
· Administrative Processing Fee: Staff is proposing an administrative fee of $45.00, based on staff processing time, which comprises the following. Participants would complete an application for the Alternative Confinement program. It would take approximately 15 minutes to review the application, including the court commitment order, and complete a criminal history check. Once approved, a confirmation communication would be generated back to the participant, which would take approximately five minutes. Processing the check (or other payment) and confirming the participant’s date(s) of stay would take another five minutes. Checking the participant in and entering the individual into the CMS system would take another 30 minutes. Discharging the participant and processing the data entry would take another 10 minutes. Accordingly, staff believes a total of one hour (60 minutes) of staff time is a reasonable estimate for each new participant. Participants who are deemed ineligible for the Pay-to-Stay program will not be charged any fees.
FISCAL IMPACT: Based on an assumption of 800 stays per year, at $155 per stay, this program is estimated to generate $124,000 in gross revenue annually. Assuming that each stay is for 2 nights, this would also result in 400 participants required to pay the $45 administrative fee, generating an additional $18,000. To the extent there are more or fewer participants, revenue estimates would change accordingly. Staff believes the costs for administering this program can be absorbed within existing appropriation and staff levels. Therefore, all revenues collected through this program would be of direct benefit to the General Fund. Because the program is new and the assumptions are not yet tested, staff proposes including a more conservative revenue estimate of $100,000 in the FY 2012/13 operating budget to be presented to Council in May.
ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW: None required.