Immigration Myth vs. Fact

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Immigration Fact Sheet (Spanish Version) 

County Detention: Proposed Mental Health Facility & Immigration Enforcement Policies – Fact Sheet

Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff



Does the Sheriff’s Office arrest undocumented immigrants solely based on their immigration status?

No. The Office of the Sheriff equally enforces the laws and serves the public without regard to immigration status. Except as expressly specified in our immigration policy and permitted by law, (e.g., the Trust Act), the immigration status of a person has no bearing on the manner in which Office of the Sheriff staff carry out their duties. The Office of the Sheriff is in compliance with all federal and state laws governing local law enforcement and strives to maintain public trust with all members of the community.

Does the Sheriff’s Office participate in ICE sweeps and mass deportation efforts?

No. The Office of the Sheriff does not participate in enforcement sweeps, immigration-based investigations, or operational campaigns with ICE.

Does the Sheriff’s Office hold undocumented immigrants in jail longer than their scheduled release date?

No. The Office of the Sheriff’s policy and current state law prohibit holding an undocumented criminal offender any longer than their normal release date. The Sheriff’s Office only honors ICE notification requests when certain individuals with specified felonious or violent criminal backgrounds are scheduled to be released. No one is detained or incarcerated longer than their scheduled release date, nor is any incarcerated person denied the right to bail or precluded from release on a citation if they are otherwise eligible. All persons arrested for criminal offenses or held pursuant to the current US Marshal’s contract always have equal access to custody programs such as educational courses, substance abuse, Chaplain ministries, etc.

Does the Sheriff’s Office investigate the immigration statuses of victims and witnesses of crimes and report them to ICE?

No. Undocumented immigrants in our communities must feel secure that contacting the Office of the Sheriff will not put them at risk for deportation. As such, the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses will not be probed. Office of the Sheriff staff do not contact, detain, or arrest persons solely on the basis of their immigration status, and do not seek out or detain undocumented persons simply to determine their immigration status.

2. Mental Health Jail Facility – West County Detention Facility

Why does the county need a West County Reentry and Mental Health Treatment Facility?

A large segment of the incarcerated population in Contra Costa County consists of individuals who are required to be housed at the Martinez Detention Facility (MDF). At MDF, which has virtually no programming or treatment space, access to services, programs, treatment, recreation, socialization, or physical activity is limited. The only services currently available at MDF are academic independent-study, a library cart, chaplain services, psychiatric assessment, and medical management. As a result, all people incarcerated at MDF live within the most restrictive conditions of the entire county jail system.

With maximum rated capacity of 695 people, MDF was designed as a “direct-supervision” facility intended to house people in single-occupancy cells within 48-person housing units. However, throughout its history, MDF has served primarily as a high-security facility, typically housing high-security and special-conditions individuals in double-bunked cells, thus exceeding the single-occupancy design capacity. It is important to note that even with this increased capacity, the facility is fully certified and approved by the California Board of State and Community Corrections. It is also inspected regularly.

What is the purpose of the proposed West County Reentry and Mental Health Treatment Facility?

The West County Reentry, Treatment, and Housing Facility (WRTH) will be constructed on a pad located within the secure perimeter of the already existing West County Detention Facility (WCDF) in the City of Richmond. This integrated housing, psychiatric, treatment, and reentry services facility will allow the transfer of approximately 400 people out of the county’s aging, outdated, and overcrowded Martinez Detention Facility. These inmates will be moved into the new facility, closing an entire housing unit at MDF.

The proposed West County Reentry and Mental Health Treatment Facility addresses an immediate need to provide meaningful reentry programming and robust mental health treatment to many individuals now incarcerated at the Martinez Detention Facility.

In furtherance of the goals of the County’s Reentry Strategic Plan, the proposed reentry and treatment facility would include approximately 25,000 square feet of program space. At a minimum, the facility design would allow for:

  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Services
  • Adult Education Programs
  • The Formulation of a Close Partnership Between the Office of the Sheriff, the West County Reentry Resource Center, and the East/Central Reentry Network
  • Integrated Pre-Release and Employment and Training Services
  • Family Reunification Services, including Group and Individual Counseling
  • Implementation of Case Management and Needs Assessments that Allow for Appropriate Delivery of Substance Abuse Treatment, Job Training, and Placement

The Office of the Sheriff is committed to expanding access to current program providers. Additionally, the Office of the Sheriff will work with members of the community and mental health experts to create a framework for future reentry and treatment opportunities.

When would the proposed facility open, and where would it be located?

The reentry and treatment facility would be constructed within the secure perimeter of the West County Detention Facility, on an existing pad intended for future expansion. The proposed facility’s footprint would take up approximately 2.3 acres of the 47-acre campus. The proposed facility would open sometime in 2021.

How will the West County Reentry and Mental Health Treatment Facility be financed?

Senate Bill 844 is a state financing program which provides $270 million in detention facility construction funding for counties in California. Large counties such as Contra Costa can apply for up to $70 million of the funding. Counties must provide 10% matching funds. It is a competitive process and only one large county that applies will receive the award.

Funding consideration shall be given to counties that are seeking to replace compacted, outdated, or unsafe housing capacity. Additionally, funding consideration will be given to counties who plan to provide adequate space for the provision of treatment and rehabilitative services, including mental health treatment. Counties must also demonstrate the replacement of outdated and inadequate jail beds will not add to the total amount of available jail beds within the current system.

How does the proposed West County Reentry and Mental Health Treatment Facility benefit the community?

A lack of reentry preparation and untreated behavioral health needs are among the leading causes of recidivism. To counteract those factors, the proposed facility will emphasize pre-release connections to programs and services that equip returning citizens with the education, documentation, and coping skills to successfully reintegrate into the community. Additionally, the facility will provide both more programing/treatment space and the appropriate type of space consistent with best practices in mental health treatment.

What are the Average Daily Populations (ADP) and rated capacities of the three jail facilities?

Martinez Detention Facility (MDF)                  ADP: 688         Rated Capacity: 695

West County Detention Facility (WCDF)         ADP: 764         Rated Capacity: 1096

Marsh Creek Detention Facility (MCDF)         ADP:   68         Rated Capacity: 188

The Custody Services Bureau also manages a Custody Alternative Facility, which supervises an average of 425 clients under various monitoring programs including electronic home detention, work alternative, county parole, alcohol monitoring, and pre-trial release.

What type of inmate is housed at the West County Detention Facility?

The WCDF is a medium security, campus style facility consisting of two-bunk cells in a dormitory setting. Inmates are free to leave their cells to use the central restroom facilities and attend daily programs often located outside of their housing units. Numerous inmate rehabilitation programs and classes are offered throughout the day; inmates leave their buildings to attend schools in the center of the facility. The design and function of the facility also affords greater amounts of free time out of one’s cell.

Due to the setting of the buildings and program locations at WCDF, certain special-needs or high security inmates at MDF would either pose a security risk or a danger to themselves or other inmates if assigned to WCDF; subsequently, they are unable to be housed at there.

How many people are booked into the jail in Contra Costa County?

Approximately 26,000 people are booked into the jail in Contra Costa County each year. Most come from the various local police departments throughout the county. 26,612 inmates were booked into the jail in 2016; that is a monthly intake average of 2,218 inmates and a daily intake average 73 inmates. The MDF is the only jail facility in the county where arrestees are initially booked into custody and once admitted into custody, inmates can be housed at any of the three facilities depending on their classification. The Classification Unit strives to house inmates in the least restrictive housing environment possible in relation to any safety concerns and with consideration of inmates’ special needs.

July 2019