For Immediate Release—February 11, 2013
San Mateo County Residents Oppose Using New Tax to Fund New Jail
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Californians United for Responsible Budget
What: Jail Tax Protest Board of Supervisor’s Meeting
When: February 12, 2013—Crowd will gather at 8:30, Meeting to start at 9:00am
Where: 400 County Center, Redwood City
Redwood City—At Tuesday’s San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting, residents will continue their battle against controversial jail construction in Redwood City by trying to dissuade Supervisors from wasting Measure A tax revenue on the new facility. During tomorrow’s meeting, the Board will take input to determine spending priorities for the new tax. Dubbed the “Jail Tax”, the recently passed Measure A has created much controversy. The language of the measure claimed a majority of the tax revenue would be used to widen healthcare infrastructure and other social services. But residents opposing the jail point out that at least half of the yearly revenue will be used to cover operation costs for the $160 million new jail. The county has yet to gather all the funding for construction and operation costs are expected to be at least $30 million a year. Those protesting the jail will demand that the county use its resources to fund community-based drug treatment programs, reentry services for people returning home from jails and prisons, job training, after-school programs, and other community-based services.
“People who agreed to this tax did so with hopes of increasing access to social programs for working people in the County, not to throw those people in jail,” says Emily Harris of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “For months, the supervisors tried to dismiss us when we called this a Jail Tax. We are here to challenge them to prove us wrong.”
Prior to the November 6 election, Supervisor Don Horsley replied to outcry from hundreds of county residents by saying “Nothing could be further from the truth. This is not a jail tax.” He went on to say that Measure A funds would help preserve “the safety net for people who really need help.” But Board Vice-president Dave Pine has said using Measure A funding for the jail is at the top of his list.
“If they are serious about soliciting input from residents about how to prioritize using the county’s scarce resources, then the Board needs to listen closely to what people are asking for. And people are not asking for a new jail,” said resident Manuel La Fontaine, of All of Us or None, a key organization opposing the jail.
Residents opposing the jail have continued to point out that Black and Latino residents are being locked up in San Mateo County Jail at highly disproportionate rates. These same residents are also suffering the most from unemployment, lack of healthcare, and cuts to social programs and services. Jail opponents are calling on the county to abandon the jail project and instead expand community-based treatment options for individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues, reduce the number of people who are locked up because of minor parole and probation violations, expand programming and alternatives to incarceration, and work to dismantle barriers to employment, housing and social services for former prisoners.