For Immediate Release—June 4, 2012
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
What: Jail Design Meeting
When: 1:30pm, Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Where: San Mateo County Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City
Less than two weeks after another funding source for San Mateo County’s controversial new jail project has been denied, community members will challenge the Board of Supervisors to change their plans during a “visioning workshop” for the new jail this Tuesday. San Mateo, which is struggling under the weight of a large budget deficit, has been denied access to state funding for the jail twice. On May 25th, AB2102, a bill designed by local Representative Jerry Hill to secure controversial AB900 prison construction money died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“When is the Board of Supervisors going to wake up?” asks Manuel La Fontaine of All of Us or None, an organization that has been fighting against the jail construction scheme since it was proposed. “There is no money to build this jail, all studies show that we don’t need it, and it’s clear that San Mateo residents don’t want it. It’s like the Supervisors put this project on autopilot and are avoiding all responsibility for what comes next.” Studies published recently by the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California show that evidence-based measures to reduce the jail population by releasing some of the pretrial population, reducing probation revocation, and expanding community-based treatment for drug and alcohol use and mental health problems could save the county more than $30 million a year and $150 million in construction costs.
On Tuesday, at 1:30pm the Supervisors will meet with jail planning consultants and contractors in a, “visioning workshop” to discuss “overall design philosophies, macro site planning and integration, ‘green’ building accommodations, programming and re-entry priorities, participation implications, and over-arching development features including ‘good neighbor’ initiatives with the surrounding community.”
“There is no way for a jail to be a good neighbor” says Anna Turner, Program Director of Youth United for Community Action in East Palo Alto. “We live in one of the richest counties in the state, and yet San Mateo County’s unemployment has doubled in the last two years, foreclosures have risen by 38%, and the number people seeking emergency hospital care, job training, food stamps and transportation and housing assistance are rising dramatically just when cuts to these programs are coming down. More than a third of San Mateo County’s households don’t make enough money to sustain themselves. When is the Board of Supervisors going to hold a visioning session on all of that? Solving all of those problems is what will build a healthy and vibrant San Mateo County. Building a jail is reactionary. San Mateo is continuing to chase behind the larger problems and pushing us further away from actually solving the issue through strategic prevention.”