Sacto 9-1-1
May 30, 2013
Sacramento's correctional center: Information, insights

jail wing.JPGThe Sacramento County Sheriff's Department invited the local media for a tour of the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center this morning.

Located in deep, rural south Sacramento County, RCCC is one of two correctional facilities run by the Sheriff's Department and primarily holds inmates who've already been sentenced. Inmates awaiting trial typically are housed at the Main Jail in downtown Sacramento, though RCCC currently holds about 420 pre-trial inmates who couldn't fit in the Main Jail.

Here's some information about the facility and some of the programs there:

• RCCC currently houses about 2,100 inmates, 250 of whom are women and 380 of whom are products of the state's realignment plan, meaning they are part of the group of non-violent, non-sexual offenders who would have been sent to state prison but instead were sent to their local county jail as a result of state efforts to reduce prison overcrowding. The jail's absolute maximum capacity is 2,550 but a more realistic maximum, officials said, is 2,400.

• RCCC is housed on 70 acres. Sheriff Scott Jones said the fence around the facility was only erected about 10 years ago in response to a changing inmate population. Before the fence went up, anyone who left the facility was considered a "walk-away" - as opposed to an escapee - and sheriff's officials would call all the local farmers to give them a heads up.

landscape.JPG- Jones said realignment has changed the demographics of the inmate population at RCCC. It has made the population older, and with that has come more significant health issues for deputies to deal with. The general inmate population also has become more criminally sophisticated, Jones said, attributable in part to previous visits to state prison. Officials also said that after realignment, the percentage of inmates with some mental health issues doubled, from 17 percent to 34 percent.

• Sheriff's officials have doubled the number of educational and counseling programs available to inmates since the start of the prison realignment process. There is great need: Three-fourths of inmates enter the facility with substance abuse issues, and the average literacy level is estimated at the seventh grade, said Capt. Milo Fitch, who oversees the facility. Many also tell deputies that they have nowhere to go when they are released, underscoring the need for help preparing them for "re-entry" into society, Fitch said.

welding.JPG- Fitch said an inmate can be in class as many as 14 hours a day. Among the classes offered are culinary arts, computer skills, landscaping and welding - the last two of which are part of programs that transfer to college credit. Welding students also can complete an industry-recognized certificate.

• Media members dropped in on a parenting class in which the topic of the day was how a child's brain develops. Some of the inmates were there by court order; others attend voluntarily. Kevin Bruner Sr., 32, said his family has seen progress in him since he started the class. "They can see the difference in me, just my tone on the phone and the way I'm talking to them," he said. "(My) whole outlook on life is different." Bruner said he appreciates the opportunities available to him while he's serving time in RCCC: "If you heed, you can learn," he said. "It's a beautiful thing, to learn."

• In another class, about a dozen students were working toward earning their GED. So far this year, 65 inmates at RCCC have earned their GED. When asked why they wanted their GEDs, inmate James Robbins said, "I've never accomplished something in my life." He said he's spent most of his adult life in and out of the correctional system and finally wants to change his behavior before his parents die. "I don't know how to live my life," said Robbins, 38. "I've never had guidance." Another student, 22-year-old James Frazier, said it makes sense to take advantage of an opportunity to get a degree - for free - while serving time. "Why not do it, make something of yourself?" he said.

Check out other photos and insights from Bee reporter Kim Minugh on her Twitter feed @Kim_Minugh.

PHOTOS: Top: Deputy Mark Maubaugh leads reporters on a tour of an empty, maximum-security wing of RCCC. The wing was closed due to budget constraints, according to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. Center: Instructor Eric Goude talks about his 17 years teaching landscaping and gardening to RCCC inmates. Bottom: An inmate welds during a welding class, in which students can learn job skills, earn college credit and receive an industry-recognized certificate. Photos by Kim Minugh.

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