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Bigger Jail, Bigger Bill

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to decide whether the county gets a new maximum security jail.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors stand on the brink of making a couple approvals Tuesday that could significantly impact the size and cost of a new jail.

At the board meeting Tuesday morning in Redwood City, supervisors will be asked to approve Sheriff Greg Munks' request to submit a preliminary application for a grant from the state that would help pay for a portion of construction costs.

Up to $100 million in grant funding can be requested from Sacramento, according to public records.

The total cost to build the new jail is estimated to be between $100 million and $165 million. The construction cost is independent from the anticipated annual operating expense of nearly $44 million, said the report.

Supervisor Dave Pine in the past about approving the jail's construction during a time when the county grapples with an ongoing $50 million deficit.

If the county receives the grant money, it could reduce jail-related debt by almost 60 percent. But in order to receive the state money, local jurisdictions would be required to match 10 percent of the total awarded amount, according to a county report.

Preliminary applications for the grant are due October 14. Formal applications are due January 4, 2012 and the money will be awarded the following month.

Much of the final cost to build the jail will be contingent on its size, and supervisors are expected to make a decision regarding the scope of the project tomorrow as well. According to a county report three variations of the plan exist. (See photos for artist renderings)

Sheriff Munks is recommending supervisors greenlight a plan to build a jail with the capacity to hold between 488 and 552 beds for inmates. This option is known as Option B.

It would be three stories tall, standing at 72 feet high, with between 320 and 384 of the beds for male inmates, and 168 for female inmates.

The plan leaves some floor space empty, so more jail cells can be added later.

Alongside this jail tower, a 40-foot-tall building would be built.  It would house 88 beds as part of an inmate transition program that is dedicated to assisting former inmates readjust back into society after serving their time.

Much of the impetus to build the new jail is generated by growing concerns of the Sheriff's Office regarding limited space for inmates.  The county's current jail houses about 1,100 inmates, which is nearly 300 more people than the facilities were constructed to accommodate, according to Sheriff Munks.

And due to state budget concerns, Governor Jerry Brown has approved sending non-violent parolees - who had served their full sentence in the state prisons - into local county jurisdictions. Under the state approved "realignment," about 400 former inmates in the state parole department will head to the county’s probation department.

The relocation of former inmates was scheduled to begin taking place on October 1.

Last year, the county purchased 4.8 acres of land east of Highway 101 in Redwood City as a site to build the new jail.

The Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the County Center in Redwood City to address these issues.

Kris Johnson October 04, 2011 at 03:37 AM
Check out this op-ed piece written by Supervisor Dave Pine on the subject: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=109777&title=Time+to+rethink+criminal+justice+in+San+Mateo+County
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) October 04, 2011 at 04:53 AM
Interesting. Thanks for sharing, Kris. So looks like Pine is going to vote it down and recommend alternatives, while Horsely is going to vote to approve. Groom and Tissier said they're in favor of it during the last study session. Check. And Check. So that's four to __?__ right now. Jacobs Gibson is in a very interesting spot indeed.
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) October 04, 2011 at 09:55 PM
hahaha It's so crazy it just might work. Except you forgot about the initial membership fees. (:

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