The Corrections Standards Authority board, at its meeting in Berkeley on Thursday, voted to award Santa Barbara County a $56.3 million grant to construct a new 304-bed North County Jail Facility.

Santa Barbara County qualified for the award by agreeing to partner with San Luis Obispo and San Benito counties in a tri-county Re-Entry Facility, to be located in the City Paso Robles and funded by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“Today’s CSA action puts us one step closer to resolving the ongoing crisis of jail overcrowding in Santa Barbara County,” Sheriff Bill Brown said. “This $56.3 million award is the largest state grant in the history of the county of Santa Barbara. It will provide the majority of funding for a Northern Branch Jail, which will also be the county’s largest-ever public works project.

“In addition to providing much-needed capacity for our jail system, this project will provide a major financial stimulus to our county’s economy, both during construction and on an ongoing basis. The next step in this long and convoluted process will be for the Board of Supervisors and the community to provide on-going revenue for the operation of this facility, as well as for essential community corrections and prevention / intervention programs designed to reduce the number of persons who need to be incarcerated in our jail system.”

Thursday’s action moved Santa Barbara County from a “Tentative Conditional Award” to a “Conditional Award” status. A variety of additional agreements with the state will need to be negotiated to comply with state regulations regarding the sale of bonds, etc.

Santa Barbara emerged from the CSA meeting as one of only eight of the original 12 counties (eight large/medium and four small) originally selected for tentative conditional grant awards to remain in the process. The CSA board selected San Luis Obispo County, partners with Santa Barbara County in the Tri County Regional Re-Entry Facility, to receive a tentative conditional award of $25.1 million.

Click here for more information on the grant funding process.

Sgt. Alex Tipolt is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.