The unanimous vote was an about-face for the board, which two weeks ago voted 5-0 to study the construction of a state rehabilitation facility at five county-owned sites. The furor began one day later, when Antioch residents were shocked to learn that one proposed site in Deer Valley was less than a mile away from two Antioch schools attended by nearly 5,000 students.
Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who faces re-election in June and has taken political heat for initially agreeing to study the Deer Valley property, asked that the board's first vote be reconsidered.
"One of the mistakes I made was I didn't make it clear to the audience that we shouldn't consider the Antioch site," he said at a news conference before the meeting. Glover also said that he regretted that Antioch leaders learned of the proposal from the Times, and not from him personally.
Contra Costa also rejected four other potential prison sites: an area next to the Marsh Creek Detention Facility east of Clayton, the intersection of Interstate 80 and Cummings Skyway in Rodeo, and a pair of properties one mile east of the Benicia bridge.
When the supervisors signed off on studying the sites two weeks ago, they did so cautiously and never said they wholeheartedly supported the proposal. However, nearly a dozen
"Frankly, you owe the city, schools and the people of Antioch an apology," said Gary Agopian, an Antioch schools trustee. "If this decision came before me, it would have been a no-brainer. Not in my backyard. Period. That is the type of representation we expect."
Other Antioch residents said they are tired of Glover and his colleagues not looking out for their city.
"The Board of Supervisors has continued to view Antioch as its dumping ground," said Gary Gilbert, an Antioch community activist and a retired correctional officer. "Inmates do walk away from these facilities. And then communities and schools have to go on lock-down."
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would like to build at least 32 "re-entry facilities" across the state to help reduce recidivism and prison overcrowding. At these state-run prisons, inmates would receive career counseling, housing assistance and other services during the final year of their sentences.
There is an incentive for counties to go along with the plan. If they allow a re-entry facility, the counties improve their chances of receiving grant money to expand county jails. Those state grants would cover as much as 75 percent of jail construction costs -- a carrot potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.
The grant would not cover operational costs at the jail, however, and the county cannot take on additional expenses, Supervisor Mary Piepho of Discovery Bay said.
"I'm not convinced that trading jail beds for a re-entry facility is worth it," she said. "In concept, re-entry facilities have a very high value to our communities. But on the community level, many folks don't want them in their backyards."
While the Martinez and Clayton city councils opposed locating a prison near their communities, those sites were more remote and never inspired major upheaval as the Antioch proposal did.
"I'm gratified on your direction to stop this proposal," Antioch resident Michael Hall told supervisors. "But backpedaling on political issues to clean up the mess you made two weeks ago is unacceptable."
Meanwhile, Piepho could not pass up an opportunity to throw some election-year sound bites into the prison debate. She released a statement Tuesday complaining that Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, was absent for a vote last year on a bill related to the re-entry facilities and jail funding.
Piepho is running for re-election in June, and Houston is her opponent.
Piepho said later that her statement was geared toward the election.
"I'm interested in keeping my job," she said. "He talks about the importance of local government, and this is a local government issue."
Houston's campaign did not return messages seeking comment.
Ryan Huff covers Contra Costa County government. Reach him at 925-977-8471 or email@example.com.