Supervisors OK Budget for Smith Jail Infirmary Project

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $785,253 budget for a project to revamp a wing of the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning to improve inmate healthcare services.

The SCF Healthcare Enhancement Project is a joint effort by the Economic Development Agency and Riverside University Health System to ensure appropriate space and equipment are available at the jail for treatment of a variety of impairments.

“The project will improve the frequency and quality of medical and behavioral health treatment provided to inmates within the facility,” according to an EDA statement posted to the board’s agenda.  “In addition, the project will provide a cost savings to the county by reducing the need to transport inmates to outlying county care facilities for healthcare needs.”

Modifications will be concentrated in units 15-17 of the detention center and will entail installing equipment and fixtures that could cost up to $100,000, according to the EDA.

The agency deferred questions about the specific project design to the sheriff’s department, which declined to make disclosures, citing security concerns.

Irvine-based GKK Works Inc. will oversee the reconfiguration. There was no published timeline for completion.

The county was sued by the Berkeley-based Prison Law Office in May 2013 over alleged civil rights violations connected to deficient treatment of inmates with mental, emotional and physical disorders.

The lawsuit was settled at the end of 2015, and among the terms of the consent decree that the Board of Supervisors accepted as part of the settlement was a stipulation that the county expand its in-house correctional resources to accommodate detainees with recognized healthcare needs.

By one estimate, the additional cost to the county of expanding treatment services is $40 million a year.

Expenditures for the current project will be covered using an EDA capital improvement account.

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