For Immediate Release—November 7, 2012
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Redwood City–As Measure A—a sales tax increase that wedged jail operation funding in with revenue for other county programs and services—passed in San Mateo County, opponents of the controversial $160 million new jail expressed an even stronger commitment to stopping the project.
“Our communities need stronger investments in healthcare, affordable housing, and quality education, and it’s a shame that the Board of Supervisors tied funding for these programs in with the new jail,” says Emily Harris, statewide coordinator of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “We must abandon this destructive, toxic jail project so the County can concentrate its resources in the life-affirming programs that build truly strong and healthy communities.”
Measure A has been branded “the jail tax,” as it will attempt to close a $30 million a year gap in operating cost for the proposed new jail. While jail staffing appeared in the full text of the measure, it was suspiciously absent from the language that most voters saw. “We are obviously disappointed that this deceptive, divisive, and destructive measure was passed. Highjacking funding for vital programs and services in order to fund tough-on-crime and jail and prison construction schemes always fail our communities,” says Molly Porzig, of Critical Resistance and San Mateo County resident who worked to raise awareness against the jail. “Now it is even more important that the rising tide of opposition to the new jail moves forward and succeeds once and for all.”
Community opposition to the jail has been steadily mounting against the project’s financial and social costs, noting that the harmful impacts of both jailing residents and wasteful spending could be avoided by implementing cheaper and more humane alternatives such as drug treatment, housing assistance, and mental healthcare. Several studies commissioned by the county itself delivered similar findings.
“On one hand the Board of Supervisors repeatedly told us it had no money to fund vital services and programs in the county,” says Harris. “On the other hand they are trying to drum up millions for this unpopular, unnecessary and extremely costly jail project. Even with Measure A passed, we don’t believe this twisted logic will hold.”
“We are proud to have joined with so many committed volunteers who have seen opposing this jail as very much a life and death fight,” says Manuel La Fontaine, organizer with All of Us or None and resident of Daly City. “This setback will surely galvanize residents to fight harder and for the long haul. Even with this measure passed, the county is tens of millions of dollars short on construction funding, so there is a long road ahead. We accept the challenge!”