Orange County lost out in a statewide competition for funding for a $40 million refurbishing of its Intake Release Center in Santa Ana.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department requested $36 million in state funds to rebuild two floors to create 257 “special use” beds for mental/health services; the county then was to provide $4 million for the facility through which 60,000 inmates cycle each year.

But a team of experts for the California Board of State and Community Corrections on Nov. 2 rated Orange County’s bid last among 10 large counties competing for $240 million in jail funds.

The counties funded were: San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, Ventura, state records show, with the state set to make the final decision on the recommendations this week.

“We are obviously disappointed,” said Steven Kea, Orange County’s assistant sheriff for custodial operations. But he added the quest was “an uphill battle” — because the four counties selected for jail competition previously had not been funded, which gave them an advantage in scoring.

Rex Dalton is a San Diego-based journalist who has worked for the San Diego Union-Tribune and the journal Nature. You can reach him directly at

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