County officials celebrated the grand opening of the 31,000-square-foot William F. James Boys Ranch expansion project with a ceremony and tour May 2.
The James Ranch, located on Malaguerra Avenue in east Morgan Hill, is a youth detention facility for juvenile offenders in Santa Clara County. The facility houses both male and female youth offenders age 15-18, with a focus on rehabilitating and helping them productively return to their communities. This includes offering education in trades and skills, and working with other agencies and non-profits to provide intervention, therapy and other services for the youth inmates.
The expansion, which has been in the works for about nine years, increases the facility’s detention capacity from 84 to 108 beds. The addition is comprised of nine living units, each with a 12-youth capacity. One living unit will be designated for female detainees, according to county officials.
A separate counseling space has also been added, allowing for greater confidentiality and improved interactions between staff and youth. And the expansion allows the James Ranch to institute a wider variety of programs for youth, such as pro-social skills, reasoning and critical thinking.
The new buildings replace the previous dormitory building that was built in 1953.
Yet another phase of the new James Ranch expansion is under construction. This phase includes a new 6,000-square-foot admissions building, a 5,400-square-foot kitchen/dining facility and a 7,300-square-foot gymnasium.
The makeover of the James Ranch will end up costing the county about $26 million, according to county staff. The bulk of the funding for the project comes from the state Local Youthful Offender Rehabilitative Construction Funding program under Senate Bill 81, according to county staff reports. Probation staff began seeking these funds for the James Ranch expansion in 2008.
After a series of delays, the board of supervisors finally approved a $26 million design and construction contract for the site with Roebbelen Contracting in April 2016.
Among those speaking at the May 2 opening and dedication of the new James Ranch expansion were supervisors Mike Wasserman and Susan Ellenberg, Santa Clara County Deputy Probation Officer Nick Birchard, Juvenile Justice Court Judge Katherine Lucero, County Executive Jeffrey Smith and County COO Miguel Marquez.