San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks said he’s happy with the County Board of Supervisors decision to move forward with construction of a new, $155 million San Mateo County jail facility. Earlier this week the group voted unanimously to spend $16.5 million to “spur construction.”
Reportedly, groundbreaking is scheduled to begin in early 2013. If all goes according to plan, the new jail is expected to open before 2015.
Sheriff’s officials are saying the jail is needed due to increased prisoner capacity brought on by the state’s prisoner realignment program. Implemented in Oct. 2010, the realignment moves non-violent, non-serious and non-sexual offenders to county facilities to serve out their sentences. Since the program began San Mateo has received in excess of 100 inmates, Munks said, and he anticipates that number will double in the upcoming months.
A recent statistic released by the San Mateo County Corrections Department states they are currently operating between 130% and 140% over capacity. This, they say, in addition to poor conditions already seen at the Women’s Jail, are all reasons to move forward.
Not everyone agrees. Opponents of the plan say the county should take a closer look at reducing prisoner populations and focus more on rehabilitation programs. Adding more bed space, they said, is not the answer.
The County Board of Supervisors maintain improved jail conditions, reduced overcrowding and better facilities are needed. Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson also said approximately 300 construction jobs will be added once the project is underway.