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Selection of County Jail Site and Assemblyman's Record

July 06, 1986

I am outraged by your editorial "Jail Funds Pawn of Power Play" (June 22). Your cheap-shot references to my so-called political grandstanding totally ignore my strong legislative record in support of county jail construction and the fact that I am the only Orange County assemblyman with a large jail already located in my district. Let me set the record straight.

In 1984, Orange County could not get one dime from the state Board of Corrections, which at the time was responsible for allocating over $500 million in Proposition 16 county jail bond funds. Further, Orange County could not move a bill through the Legislature to get any money either--until I stepped in and successfully pushed through a statewide county jail allocation bill that gave the county $50.2 million.

In 1985, I discovered that the Board of Supervisors, despite numerous federal court orders, had yet to find a site for a new county jail in order to house in excess of 5,000 inmates. Los Angeles County, facing the same court orders, asked me to author a bill to allow the county to "fast-track" its jail construction. This process can reduce construction time by at least two years. I agreed to carry the bill on the condition that Orange County was included. I then had to literally beg the county to participate. That bill, AB 3215, is now on the Senate floor.

This year, it was necessary to place yet another bond measure on the June, 1986, ballot. I carried the first bill to place $150 million on the 1986 ballot for county jails and $200 million for more state prisons. My record supporting every jail dollar Orange County has received speaks for itself.

I agree with you that county jail siting is a local planning issue--when it is done in a responsible manner, and particularly if only county funds are involved. In this case, the state is going to fund 75% of the new jail, and it has the responsibility to say whether it wants a jail on a particular site in Anaheim. Contrary to the implication in your editorial, the voters did not approve a jail near Disneyland.

The problem is that the Orange County Board of Supervisors does not have the fortitude to build one 5,000-inmate-capacity jail in a remote area of the county, which is what proper land-use planning dictates!

We need a new county jail. The supervisors should follow legitimate land-use planning principles, not a sham process, and put the jail where it has the least impact on the good people of Orange County.

RICHARD ROBINSON

Assemblyman, 72nd District

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