Opposing San Mateo County jail (CA)

Two good articles about CURB and Occupy Redwood City’s vocal opposition to building the new San Mateo County jail!

Next action will be on:
Tuesday morning September 11 at 9 am at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting in Redwood City
Board Chambers 400 County Center, First Floor Redwood City,
Contact Emily if you’re interested and need a ride – emily@curbprisonspending.org


New jail foes decry design alternatives
August 29, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

Opponents of plans for a new, larger jail to ease overcrowding and replace the dilapidated women’s facility denounced two possible design ideas presented by the sheriff yesterday and asked supervisors to consider a third option — no jail at all.
Speakers before the Board of Supervisors said it can honor existing construction contracts and provide union jobs by building mental health and drug rehab facilities rather than a jail. Many vowed to fight a proposed sales tax measure for county services because they believe it was suggested to fund the jail’s operating costs and several said the programs and services planned for the jail could be better provided in the community.
The Chemical Way site in Redwood City purchased for the jail also came under fire as a “toxic waste dumpsite.”
“If it can’t have housing, why can it have prisoners for years?” asked Tom Winebarger.
The supervisors did not directly address the crowd’s concerns but told Sheriff Greg Munks they liked aspects of the two possible designs he shared yesterday, particularly as they relate to transitional housing and unfinished space known as a warm shell.
But speaker James Lee, an organizer with Occupy, said terms like “warm shell” and the need to replace the deplorable women’s jail should not be used to make the plan more palatable.
“These are all just ways to gild the cage,” Lee said.
Currently, the new 576-bed jail is expected to open in 2015 with a roughly $155 million construction price tag followed by $25 million to $27 million in annual operating expenses
Ground broke in June and jail planners and architects are narrowing down a design.
The first option is a low-rise building configuration with administrative/support services on the ground floor and inmate housing above. The second possibility is a mid-rise building configuration with administrative/support services in a two-story structure separate from inmate housing which will be located in a three-story building.
Munks and several members of the board said they favor the second option. Both designs separate male and female inmates and take into consideration the needs of inmates with longer or extended stay lengths under the state realignment. Realignment shifted some low-level offenders from state prison to county jails and kept some convicts local rather than sending them to prison.
Board President Adrienne Tissier will soon appoint two supervisors to a subcommittee to talk about what the warm shell space can look like and how community-based organizations can be expanded in the jail to make the best use of precious dollars. She also said those discussions will be shaped in part by learning more about the impacts of realignment of which a year update is due this fall.
“You don’t want to do things and then find out you don’t have the space to do it,” Tissier said.
But while the jail planners push ahead, opponents like those yesterday hoisting signs like “Schools not jails” and “Hope not jails” say there’s still time for reconsideration.
“It’s not too late to put the brakes on this new jail,” said Linnea Nelson, a criminal justice and drug policy fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Michelle Durand can be reached by email: michelle@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

Group urges San Mateo County to put the brakes on a new jail

By Bonnie Eslinger

Daily News Staff Writer (San Jose Mercury News)

Posted: 08/28/2012 08:28:03 PM PDT
Updated: 08/28/2012 08:28:04 PM PDT

While San Mateo County marches ahead with its plan to build a new $160 million jail in Redwood City, a small but vocal group of activists continues to challenge the assumption that one is needed.

“You know, if you build a jail it will be filled and that’s just wrong,” Carol Cross, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday after Sheriff Greg Munks presented two design options for the proposed jail at the corner of Maple and Blomquist streets on the east side of Highway 101.

Tom Linebarger said the county isn’t trying hard enough to reduce the jail population so he won’t support the proposed sales tax increase the board placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. Concerned that the money could be spent to operate the new jail, he said “me and everyone I know is going to work against this half a cent sales tax.”

Cross and Linebarger were among about 25 people who attended the meeting hoping to persuade the supervisors to boot the jail idea.

“I want to reiterate what everyone has said so far, it is not too late to put the brakes on,” Linnea Nelson of the American Civil Liberties Union told the supervisors.

Munks has said a new facility is needed because the existing jails are overcrowded and the county expects to receive 200 to 300 additional inmates a year since the Legislature decided to house certain low-level offenders in county jails instead of state prisons. The daily number of inmates in the county jail system averaged 1,101 from 2001 to 2010, or 267 more than the system’s state-approved capacity, he said.

As planned, the new jail would open with 640 beds but contain enough “warm shell” space to accommodate an additional 192 if needed. Until then, the extra space will be used for social service programs designed to help inmates transition to life outside jail after their release.

“It would be our intent to finish this off with plumbing, with electrical, with all the different things that would be needed so that we wouldn’t have to spend as much if we had to activate it,” Munks said about the extra space during his presentation. “I’m still hopeful that we do not have to utilize it for inmate housing, that we could find a use that we could put in there that would contribute to our overall goals of reducing recidivism and preparing people to re-enter our communities.”

Munks also noted that both design options — one for a two-story jail and the other for a three-story facility — would included space on the 4.7-acre site for additional housing, if needed, in coming decades.

“Part of any jail project is looking out 20, 30 years, if there’s a need for expansion,” Munks said.

Before the protesters spoke, Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson addressed them by noting the new jail would make the best of a bad situation.

“One of the things that many people don’t seem to understand is we don’t recruit people for our jails,” Jacobs Gibson said. “That’s why we want to do the best job that we can once they get in our jails, which is our responsibility that we have, to make sure that everyone gets the best services possible and the services include ensuring whatever treatments and services that they need to ensure they go home and they don’t have to return to our jails.”

In response, Occupy Redwood City member James Lee said the county could build facilities for social services on the new site without a jail. “All these things that Supervisor Gibson is talking about that she wants to do in the jail, can be done better outside,” Lee said

Emily Harris, an organizer for Californians United for a Responsible Budget, which works to reduce prison and jail spending, said the board should hold a public hearing to review suggestions for reducing the number of inmates and alluded to a recent recommendation by the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury that it consider using electronic monitors on people awaiting court dates.

“There’s a lot more options we can look at before moving forward on the new jail,” Harris said.

Email Bonnie Eslinger at beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger.


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