Richmond mayor denounces West County Detention Facility expansion in statement

The following statement was issued by Richmond Mayor Tom Butt addressing the approval of the West County Detention Facility expansion:



Mayor Tom Butt made the following statement today in response to the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) announcement regarding jail constructions grant awards:
I am disappointed with but not surprised by today’s decision by the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) to award the Contra Costa County sheriff $70 million for the expansion of the West County Detention Facility in Richmond. This presents a serious setback to the forward-thinking public safety initiatives that we have fought for and stood by for years. Our city council has strongly opposed this project along with neighboring cities and many concerned residents and activists because it contradicts our shared public safety priorities.

In 2015, I worked with the City Council and several community partners to effectively challenge the Sheriff’s jail expansion. Today’s proposal is equally flawed and fails to adopt a more equitable and reasonable approach to housing capacity and services to inmates.

Nearly 20% of the existing bed capacity at the West County facility is under contract with the federal immigration enforcement (ICE). If the sheriff wants to show concern for overcrowding and services in his jails, he should stop operating his facility as a profit center housing ICE detainees, and work towards sustainable reform.

I am also dismayed at the vindictive move by the sheriff made to punish the City of El Cerrito for their opposition to the expansion of the West County Detention Facility by withdrawing a contract to provide dispatching services, costing the City of El Cerrito an additional $1.5 million.

I support Senate Bill 630 (Skinner) which will limit state funding for the expansion of county detention centers where existing capacity is used for purposes other than the housing of inmates held under a local jurisdiction. Despite the sheriff’s project moving forward, I am fully behind Senator Skinner’s efforts to prevent agencies from using public funding and resources to support facilities that do not serve the best interests of the community. I urge the legislature and the governor to support this bill and support communities like Richmond through meaningful criminal justice reform.

Chris Treadway

  • Free Speech

    Mayor Butt deserves a lot of credit for standing up and finally publicly addressing this issue.

    It’s unfortunate that the Sheriff didn’t listen to his or anyone else’s concerns and you’re right that the decision to move forward with the expansion goes entirely against what the Mayor and others are trying to accomplish in the area. Instead of safety the Sheriff has chosen to bring more havoc to Richmond.