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SF Sheriff Doesn't Want New Jail in San Bruno

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said any recommendations to move hundreds of inmates to the San Bruno location near the jail already there the "suburbanizing" of the jail population.

A Board of Supervisors' neighborhood services and safety committee Thursday discussed plans for a $290-million jail project to replace the decrepit jail facilities on the top two floors of the Hall of Justice.

The jail replacement project is part of a larger program to relocate city agencies from the "seismically deficient" building at 850 Bryant St. by 2019.

The Board of Supervisor's budget and legislative analyst put together a report released Thursday on the costs and feasibility of different jail replacement sites and configurations.

The recommended proposed replacement jail would have 640 beds and be built at a site adjacent to the Hall of Justice where a McDonald's fast-food restaurant currently resides.

As part of the proposed design, there would be a tunnel connecting the two buildings, according to the city's Department of Public Works staff who presented at today's hearing.

The current jail facility at the top of the Hall of Justice houses about 600 inmates. There is another jail facility adjacent to the Hall that was built in 1994 that would remain at that site.

The entire San Francisco jail system, which includes a city-owned facility in San Bruno built in 2006, has 2,515 beds.

Construction on the replacement jail is slated to begin in January 2017 and be completed by December 2019.

Campos said Thursday's meeting was going to be the first of many to include the public in discussions about a location for the jail, its inmate capacity and the decision on whether a replacement facility is even necessary.

"The county jail population is decreasing at historic rates," Campos said. There's the "possibility there's no need for a jail."

According to the budget and analyst's office report, between 2008 and 2013 the San Francisco prison population dropped about 30 percent from 2,015 to 1,413.

Another possible alternative would be constructing a smaller replacement jail at the same site near the Hall of Justice. The smaller facility would have 384 beds and cost $194 million to build.

Campos said he prefers building a smaller facility or eliminating the jail space altogether.

Supervisor Jane Kim said she was open to all options as long as the current jail facility is closed sooner rather than later. She said the Hall of Justice jail is "not a safe or healthy environment to be in" for inmates and staff.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who is a supporter of the proposed 640-bed facility plan, said another option to build the replacement facility in San Bruno seems like a "kicking the can strategy."

He called any recommendations to move hundreds of inmates to the San Bruno location near the jail already there the "suburbanizing" of the jail population.

He said that plan would require shuttles and transportation costs to get inmates to court appearances in San Francisco and for families to visit those incarcerated at the facility.

"It sabotages the level of community that is already under threat in San Francisco," he said.

He said moving to the city-owned jail in San Bruno takes on an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr raised concerns about a growing population in San Francisco and more police officers making more arrests in the coming years.

He said although there is a record low jail population and successful diversion programming to keep offenders out of custody, "we are going to need some sort of facility."

"The hope of no jail just isn't practical," he said. He said moving the jail to San Bruno involves transportation costs that are "unrealistic."

City Public Defender Jeff Adachi said he also supports keeping a jail facility in San Francisco.

"It's important for our attorneys and families to have access to clients."

The Public Defender's Office is near the Hall of Justice.

Opponents of building the jail in San Francisco, including a representative from District Attorney George Gascon's office, said the city should instead focus funding on programs to reduce the jail population and recidivism rates.

Coalition on Homelessness executive director Jennifer Friedenbach spoke during public comment Thursday afternoon and encouraged diverting money for building a new jail to programming for homeless residents and working with mentally ill residents and addicts who are often arrested.

The Board of Supervisors will have four chances to vote on different aspects of the jail replacement project: during a vote on the city's next capital plan in Spring 2015, when the environmental review process is completed in Fall 2015, then when approving the property purchase and financing for the project, according to Campos.

In October, the board unanimously voted in support of applying for an $80 million state grant to finance the jail replacement project.

The money would come from a pool of $500 million through Senate Bill 1022 which would be dispersed by the State Public Works Board to counties around the state.

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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Bite Koch January 24, 2014 at 05:02 PM
Good-neither do I!
Maria Pia January 24, 2014 at 10:39 PM
No in San Bruno . SF has a jail here already. Treasure ISland has plenty of space. What about the Candlestick location or vacant industrial area of the city.
Rob Chapman January 25, 2014 at 02:22 AM
I live near the jail in San Bruno, I've got a clear view of it from my backyard, we do NOT need another one.
James Wilson January 25, 2014 at 09:33 AM
The reason the jail population is dropping is because the DA's office is dropping cases left and right. It's a joke how bad it is becoming in SF.
bob b January 25, 2014 at 03:53 PM
I'm glad that the sheriff is trying to make it eaiser for the DA office and heaven forbid that the prisoners family members would have to drive further than necessary. Even though some have assaulted, stabed, and shoot people we should make it as comfortable as possible. GET A GRIP...San Bruno facility needs to be taken down and not rebuilt. Build a facility over where the swart facility is in San Francisco..tks

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