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Orange County Approves $261 Million Contract For Musick Jail Expansion

The Orange County Board of Supervisors awarded an over $261 million contract to expand James A. Musick Jail Facility. The construction contract was granted to the San Fernando-based company, Bernards Bros., Inc. 

To meet the financial cost of this project, over a $261 million contract, money came from the county as well as a loan that was given from OC Waste and Recycling, according to county documents.

“This is a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to reform our custody operations, move forward the integrated services plan, and ultimately help inmates achieve mental stability and sobriety while in our care and custody,” Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement on May 5. 

Barnes noted that 33% of the jail beds are over 50 years old, and 70% of the beds are over 30 years old.

“These new facilities will better meet the needs of today’s inmate population,” he said. 

There had been plans to expand the Musick Facility since the 1990s but lawsuits and lack of funds were an ongoing issue. The county now has generated $180 billion, which it acquired from the state, to begin constructing the new housing buildings. 

Construction is expected to begin in late June and the completion is expected for fall 2020. The expansion includes adding two new housing structures on the ninth acre property located at Irvine’s edge. 

New residential developments have been built and continue to grow not far from the jail. 

“Expanding the jail so close to a residential community is not something that we want to see. But we’ve come to a point where we can’t do anything about it,” Irvine mayor, Shea said.

This year, the facility has plans to expand its living quarters. Expansion will include adding 896 new beds, boosting the jail’s capacity to 2,208. Last March, Orange County sheriff’s announced the jail would be temporarily closed as new living quarters were being constructed. The jail is planning an 896-bed expansion that will include two new housing facilities on former farmland. In addition to other modifications, they will create more spaces for inmates with mental health needs.

James A. Musick Facility was named after the city’s 1947 to 1975 on-duty sheriff and was used to produce crates full of eggs, vegetables and fruits. It is also known as The Farm since inmates grew food which at one point fed the county’s jails. The primary use of the property’s bordering fence was not to keep the inmates in but to keep the cattle out. In recent years, most of the agricultural aspects of this facility have ceased. 

Since 1963, James A. Musick Jail Facility has been a jail where the city of Orange County sent its low-level offenders such as drunk drivers, possessors of drugs and those who skipped out on child support.

Sarah Kim is a City News Intern for the 2020 spring quarter. She can be reached at sarahmk5@uci.edu.