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Federal Grant Could Keep County Jail Operating in Thousand Oaks

August 01, 2003|Tracy Wilson | Times Staff Writer

Ventura County law enforcement agencies have been awarded more than $980,000 in federal funds, a portion of which could be used to keep the East County Jail in Thousand Oaks open until next summer, officials said.

The one-time grant award from the Federal Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative reimburses the probation and sheriff's departments and the district attorney's office for the cost of housing and prosecuting cases deferred by federal authorities to state courts.

The grant money could not have come at a better time. Sheriff Bob Brooks and Dist. Atty. Greg Totten have complained that the budget approved by the county Board of Supervisors in June has left their agencies woefully short of what they need to maintain public safety.

The district attorney's office intends to use its $491,250 in grant funds to offset potential layoffs, an official said Thursday. Probation's portion totals $113,750.

Brooks said in a statement that he would ask county supervisors to use the $377,500 earmarked for his agency to fund the East County Jail for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Faced with a budget shortfall, Brooks had planned to close the jail facility, which takes in about 3,500 prisoners a year, to save his department $800,000 annually.

But the anticipated closure prompted the city of Thousand Oaks to file a lawsuit that alleged a shutdown would violate the law enforcement contract between the county and the city.

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