The construction of a bigger San Mateo County Jail has long been discussed. The proposal was first approved in Oct. 2011 in a 4-1 vote by the County Board of Supervisors. Sheriff Greg Munks has said construction is anticipated to run between $145 million and $160 million.
Now, though, some residents are concerned construction of the San Mateo County Jail will be held up due to a 2007 Senate Public Safety Committee policy that prevents legislation that would increase prisoner populations. According to a recent report, the District Attorney has said this policy, called ROCA, can “hinder efforts to address important criminal issues”.
Other law enforcement officials are saying that money, not public safety, is the driving force of many decisions being made in Sacramento. There are, however, exceptions to the rule. The passage of Chelsea’s Law allowed for persons convicted of sexual offenses against minors to receive life in prison without the possibility of parole. That exception, though, was a double edged sword. Although it allowed for an increase in one segment of the state’s prison population, it offset that increase by allowing persons convicted of less serious crimes to be released early.
How ROCA will impact the proposed San Mateo County Jail is currently uncertain. For now, proponents and opponents of adding bed space will continue to bump heads until the issue is resolved.