SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — After hours of testimony from the community, Santa Clara County leaders voted to move forward with a new jail that will cost $390 million.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, county leaders voted 3-2 to construct a 500-inmate maximum jail.

Plans will also include demolishing a portion of the Elmwood jail and all of Main Jail North.

“Though I am disappointed I wasn’t able to persuade my colleagues to join me in opposing the construction of a new jail, there were a lot of wins for our County today. We are going to continue to work towards alternatives to incarceration,” said Supervisor Susan Ellenberg.

“I am grateful to the advocates, community organizations, elected officials, doctors, nurses, students, professors, influential leaders and members of the public who made their preferences heard: their voices are changing the narrative and will continue to hold us accountable to act with compassion, fairness, and justice.” 

Supervisors Otto Lee, Joe Simitian, and Mike Wasserman voted in favor of a new jail facility — while Supervisors Ellenberg and Cindy Chavez voted against the idea.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Supervisor Elleneberg introduced a referral that would provide more comprehensive behavioral health care and expand community-based alternatives to pretrial incarceration.

“As chair of the Public Safety and Justice Committee I am going to lead a year-long workgroup that will identify, vet, and recommend options to the Board of Supervisors to expand the work that has already begun,” said Supervisor Ellenberg.

“We are going to continue to prioritize expanding our continuum of mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities and services and we are going to continue to work towards a community where every individual has the tools and support they need to thrive here.”

The vote to move forward with a new jail comes after California State Attorney General Rob Bonta launched a civil rights investigation into the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office over its handling of county jails.

“Public safety is built on trust,” said Attorney General Bonta.

“When communities feel they are treated fairly and equitably by law enforcement, it increases trust, and that in turn contributes to increased public safety. However, it is clear that there is a lack of trust in Santa Clara County as a result of deeply concerning allegations around county jail facilities and other misconduct,” Bonta added.

“These concerns have been repeatedly voiced by elected leaders, editorial boards, community members, and more. Bottom line: Public institutions are subject to public oversight. That’s why the California Department of Justice is launching a pattern or practice investigation into the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. We will be thorough and impartial in our efforts to ensure that the civil rights of the people of Santa Clara County are respected.”