Napa County has yet to move the first inmate into its new, $23.4 million reentry facility four months after holding the grand-opening ceremony.
The building along Highway 221 near Syar quarry sits empty, though during a Feb. 1 tour it appeared to be all-but-complete. County officials said at the time that the 72-bed, low-security facility to help inmates transition back to society would be in use by early March.
Public Works Director Steven Lederer said Monday that the contractor, Vila Construction, in March told the county it couldn’t finish the remaining items needed to wrap up the project. For example, finishing touches are needed on the roof, though the roof didn’t leak with the winter and spring rainstorms.
About $500,000 worth of work remains to be done, though this might go up or down depending on certain inspections, he said.
Vila Construction, as part of its $16 million construction contract with the county, provided a bond of about $16 million. These bonds are required with public works projects to make certain the job is completed.
Lederer said the county is working with the bonding agency and that the reentry facility should be finished by late summer.
“The county is financially protected,” Lederer said. “We’re going to get the job done. We’re going to get it done right. It won’t cost us any more money.”
Vila Construction, which has its name on the reentry facility plaque, has abandoned projects in other communities, Lederer said. This is the first time in his career he’s had a situation like this happen, he said.
When contacted by phone on Monday, a Vila Construction representative said only that the bonding company has taken over.
Richmond-based Vila Construction was founded in 1916. The company website prominently features the Napa County reentry project.
Meanwhile, Napa County has delayed choosing inmates to go to the reentry facility while waiting to see when the building will open.
“We were in the process of choosing them,” county Chief Probation Officer Mary Butler said. “We had to stop that. We’re kind of on hold.”
Some inmates who were considered to go to the reentry facility several months ago have since been released, she said.
The reentry facility is to be a place where low-risk inmates obtain skills with the goal of helping them to stay out of jail in the future. They might take classes or receive substance abuse counseling in the facility and leave at times to go to a job or to Napa Valley College.
The facility is monitored by cameras and will always have at least three correctional officers present. Inmates leaving the facility for jobs or classes will have to wear ankle location monitors, county officials said.
Still, the reentry facility doesn’t look like a jail. Inmates live in dorms rather than in cells with bars on the doors.
“You don’t get to come here and hang out,” Butler said during the grand opening in February. “You have to work your program to be here.”
She called the reentry facility “a middle” between life in jail and life in society. Inmates will have rules to follow and things to do, but have more flexibility than when in the county jail.
Lederer said the county doesn’t want to use the building before it is officially completed. Otherwise, questions might arise over whether something that needs fixing was broken by the occupants.
Also, the reentry facility is a secured facility, even though it is for low-risk offenders. The county doesn’t want inmates there while contractors are still at work, he said.