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Yolo County supervisors reject prison deal
By sacbee.com
Published: 05/06/2009

Yolo supervisors reject prison deal
By Hudson Sangree - sacbee.com
Two grandmothers sat at a kitchen table in the little town of Madison last September and wondered how they could take on the combined might of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.
Both groups wanted to build a re-entry prison next to the community of 384 in exchange for $30 million in state funding to expand the county jail.
But Carla Phillips and Sherrie Barnett vowed to fight the plan, saying they didn't want the quiet lives they'd built for their families to be changed by having 500 inmates as neighbors.
On Tuesday, the two women and other rural residents won a resounding victory as the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted against putting the prison in Madison – or anywhere else in Yolo County.
"I'm personally ready to drive a stake through the heart of this process," said Mike McGowan, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, who had previously voted to build the prison.
The board's 5-0 vote revoked the county's previous agreement with the corrections agency.
Afterward, Phillips and Barnett rejoiced with supporters, hugging and smiling in the hallway of the county building in Woodland.
"I'm just in heaven," said Phillips. "This is the goal. This is what we've been working for."
Said Barnett: "They underestimated Madison."
McGowan said the political pressure and a lawsuit by the residents' group, Save Rural Yolo County, wasn't a major factor in the board's decision, though the supervisors shared the group's safety concerns about newly released inmates wandering into Madison.
Instead, he said, it was the resistance to the Madison site by the Department of Corrections that killed the prison plan. Supervisors felt they had offered the state a viable site, but corrections officials had a different view.
"We presented them with perfectly good site and they got hinky on us," McGowan said.
All along, Madison residents had insisted the alfalfa field on the outskirts of town was prone to winter flooding. Some told corrections Secretary Matthew Cate the supervisors had sold him a "swamp."
Evaluations of the site by corrections staff and consultants showed flood control to be a significant problem, said Deborah Hysen, deputy secretary of corrections in charge of facilities planning and construction.Read more.

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