The on-going expansion at the James A. Musick facility, an Irvine-based jail, utilized by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, has become the focus of disapproval by Irvine residents, including members of the Irvine City Council.
Now, a resolution signed by Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim and supported by Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan urges the Orange County Board of Supervisors to hold a public hearing regarding the reopening of the Musick facility.
With the Musick jail expansion nearly complete, Irvine residents are growing more concerned about the negative impacts the facility will have on the city once it reopens.
Construction on the Musick jail expansion began in Summer 2020, with inmate occupancy expected to begin in 2023. Once completed, the Musick jail will hold 896 beds total.
However, due to the fact that the Musick jail is located on county land within Irvine, there is little the city can do to delay the project further.
In an interview with Irvine Weekly, Kim said after hearing dozens of comments from the public asking the Board of Supervisors to intervene, she decided to file a resolution.
“Clearly we have a lot of residents that are not happy about the Musick expansion – I’m in agreement with that as well,” Kim explained. “The residents wanted to see a resolution, confirming our condemnation, and our opposition to the expansion.”
In terms of the language, Kim’s resolution state’s that the Board Of Supervisors should listen to the concerns of residents.
“The City Council of the city of Irvine strongly urges the Orange County Board of Supervisors to hold a public meeting concerning the expansion of James A. Musick Jail facility, at which County of Orange and Orange County Sheriff’s Department staff will have an opportunity to present relevant information concerning the jail expansion project, and members of the public will have a full and fair opportunity to address their concerns to the Board of Supervisors.”
Irvine has a long history of litigation concerning the Musick facility. In fact, City Attorney Jeff Melching said there was a time when Musick could have been regarded as “one of the largest jail facilities in the state,” in terms of beds.
Melching has also emphasized that without regulatory authority, Irvine was limited to the power of influence.
In Kim’s mind, the Musick expansion is just proliferating a public health crisis and a revolving door of incarceration. When asked to define what use the City Council would feel the Musick jail expansion acceptable to Irvine, Kim said she could only speak for herself, but she believes there is no realistic purpose for a jail being in Irvine.
“I believe that this is a public health crisis. The fact that it is a jail – it just can’t be remedied as far as I’m concerned,” Kim said. “The county can take it and say we’re no longer going to make this a jail – we will turn this into another ‘BeWell Campus’ – that is something we can discuss – but that should have nothing to do with the Sheriff’s Department – it should be working with the Orange County Health Agency.”
The Irvine City Council is set to vote to adopt the resolution on Tuesday, May 11, during the City Council meeting.