Barless Detention Facility's approach leads to less violence

Gets recognized by Architectural Digest

SANTEE, Calif. - Las Colinas Detention Center is getting accolades for their progressive design in Architectural Digest Magazine.

The women's Santee facility opened in August of 2014. It has no bars, barbed wire. There's lots of palm trees, flowers and grass, all taken care of by the inmates. 

Here, they say, is opportunity to change your life.

"I was a month and a half pregnant when I got arrested, so I spent my whole pregnancy in jail, I gave birth in jail, she's with my parents, she's almost four years old," Kanya Arredondo said of her daughter Danya.

She was locked up for a 5 year sentence for transporting illegal drugs.

"I missed everything, her first words, her first walking...I get 2-3 visits per week with her on the video screen," at Las Carolinas Kanya says they have a "Facetime machine".

She said the atmosphere at the new facility allowed her to have a connection with her daughter, and the deputies who encouraged her to change.

She's been taking classes, learned English and is on the Dean's List. She has a job ready when she gets out in 34 days.

"I don't ever want to come back to this place, even though, it's jail, and a lot of positive things came out of here, I still don't want to come back, at least as an inmate," she said she volunteered to start a Spanish book club to help other inmates follow her path to rehabilitation.

Another inmate, Holly Combs, transitioned from the old facility to the new one as well.

"It's like a fight or flight situation... It's amazing how the trauma you just got used to it," Holly said referring to fights and drugs overtaking the cells.

She said it all started when she lost her brother during a robbery. She felt responsible and turned to drugs, landing her behind bars. 

"My behavior started changing, i started taking every class, I take college courses here I'm on the dean's list and have a 4.0," she said.

Her life changed when she came to Las Colinas' new facility.

"It just took someone to believe in me you know?" Holly said. She's out in about 50 days and has a job ready on the outside.

"There's a lot of programs here, if you want it you can have them... I could cry, I owe a lot to this place I really do.. I didn't think I could change and the whole way I think is different now." She said.

According to the Sheriff's Department, inmate on inmate violence has been reduced by 56% since the new location opened. 
 

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