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IRVINE | Community News Focus

City Scorns County Plans to Expand Jail

September 26, 1996|LORI HAYCOX

A proposal to transform Orange County's minimum-security James A. Musick Jail into a maximum-security prison and increase its size 10 times has outraged the City Council, which already is battling the county over its plans for a commercial airport.

Council members said expanding Musick's capacity to 7,584 inmates, more than 10 times its capacity of 713, is just another example of how county plans could bring traffic, crime and noise to this master-planned community.

" 'Hell no' would be a good response for this," Mayor Mike Ward said at this week's council meeting. "The county is not using their brains."

The council, which fears for the safety of its residents if the jail were expanded, unanimously agreed to send a letter to the county expressing its opposition.

The council also decided to join forces with Lake Forest after its councilwoman, Helen Wilson, came to Tuesday's meeting asking Irvine officials for support.

Officials are concerned mostly about the increased traffic to a larger facility and the types of people who would be visiting.

"My experience as a former police officer tells me associates of inmates aren't too far an element from criminals themselves," said Dave Christensen, one of five challengers for a City Council seat who came to the meeting to oppose the Musick expansion.

Council members said they would be willing to help the county find another location for a jail, as long as it was not close to residential areas.

The council suggested the county sell the Musick jail and use the funds to build a new jail in Santa Ana, which is closer to the courthouses.

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