SF: Take Action Against Jail Spending

The fight to stop jail expansion in San Francisco continues. Tomorrow, Thursday April 6th, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Sub-Committee will vote again on authorizing Sheriff Hennessy’s application for state renovation funds for County Jail 2 (Seventh Street). The proposal is currently being vetted at a state level, and if approved, will come back to the SF Supervisors for final approval around June 2017.

The Sheriff’s Proposal includes:

  • Expanding the Jail. There are plans to renovate an area of the jail that has been closed for years, effectively expanding the jail’s capacity by 24 people.
  • Higher Security for Prisoners with Mental Health Concerns. The proposal would create 24 two person maximum security cells for people needing mental health support.
  • Isolation of Trans Prisoners. There are plans to renovate an area where transgender prisoners are currently held, likely leading to their transfer to higher security cells, meaning increased isolation and control, rather than their release.
  • Sending Prisoners to Another County or Renovating a Jail that the City Ordered Closed.During this proposed renovation, the Sheriff suggests that San Francisco either rents beds in another county during construction, or renovate 850 Bryant – which has been ordered closed because it is dangerous and seismically unsafe.
  • The Likelihood of More Jail Expansion. The Sheriff admits that this renovation could position the city for further capacity expansion in the future, what she calls “Phase 2” of the project.

These ideas are all outrageous and directly contradict Supervisors’ commitment to finding alternatives to jail construction – San Francisco must demand strategies to close 850 Bryant that get people out of jail and back into our community. 

This comes after Supervisors unanimously rejected jail construction in 2015 and put forward a process for investigating alternatives to imprisonment that would reduce the jail population and allow for permanent closure of 850 Bryant. Despite the fact that the Workgroup to Re-envision the Jail Replacement Project has not yet completed its mission, and despite the fact that jail renovation was ranked lowest of all the prioritized proposals for investment, the Sheriff continues to charge ahead, requesting $70 million in state funding and $12 million in city funding. The city has yet to invest in more highly ranked priorities such as low income housing, a reentry navigation center, and community based wrap around services, but is now considering the $27 million in debt payments over 20 years via the Sheriff’s proposal. 

Take Action Today: 

Email Budget and Finance Sub-Committee members Supervisors Cohen, Yee, Tang before 10am Thursday.

Dear Supervisor,

The Sheriff is proposing spending $27million of San Francisco money on jail renovation when we have a need for those funds more than ever to ensure housing, healthcare, education, and legal and social services while under threat of reduction or loss of federal funding.

You cannot allow this proposal to go forward as written. We ask you to consider difficult questions before putting San Francisco back on the path to jail construction and expansion by mandating that the Sheriff does not increase jail capacity, increase maximum security control and isolation, waste money on imprisoning people in nearby counties, or delay closure of 850 Bryant by renovating the condemned building. As Supervisors, you have the power and responsibility to make certain San Francisco prioritizes community based investments, mental health care, and social services.

Name, Affiliation, and Neighborhood if you live or work in SF

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