Sign-on! Stop the San Mateo Jail

Please join our fight against the $160 million San Mateo jail expansion by signing onto this letter.  To add your name or organization please send an email to info@curbprisonspending.org before September 7th, 2012.

September 11, 2012

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

Hall of Justice and Records

400 County Center

Redwood City, CA 94603

To the Board of Supervisors,

We, the undersigned, urge the Board not to build the Maple Street Correctional Center in San Mateo County. Building a new facility is unnecessary, counterproductive and a waste of human lives and scarce County resources.

We respectfully but forcefully request that the Board of Supervisors:

1) Cancel construction on any new jail projects

2) Immediately reduce the County’s jail population

3) Use all AB109 funds to support community-based programs, alternatives to incarceration and services

4) Do not use sales tax revenues to finance the jail expansion

San Mateo County does not need more jail cells. The County Local Implementation Plan lists several ways to reduce the County’s current jail population, all of them proven policy options that are safely and successfully in place in other counties. Reducing the number of people held pre-trial, and especially those held because they can’t make bail, would by itself reduce the County’s jail population very significantly. Seventy-two percent of people in San Mateo’s jails are awaiting trial and the great majority of those simply cannot afford bail. Unnecessarily high bail is just one of many practices that targets poor people and people of color to fill San Mateo’s jail cells.

We share the widespread disgust at conditions in the Women’s Correctional Center, but do not support building a new jail for women. As the ACLU has pointed out, San Mateo could safely close the Women’s Correctional Center without building a new jail by moderately reducing the jail population.  Women in San Mateo County don’t need better jail cells. They need programs in the community that will help them make lives for themselves outside jail.  What could $44.2 million do this year for struggling communities if you had a different plan?  What could the $50 million a year–nearly $137,000 a day– it will cost to operate the jail and pay debt service do? How much affordable housing, healthcare, treatment, education, and job training could that pay for?

San Mateo County currently locks up 145 women.  That means that the $44.2 million that you are proposing to spend solely on jail construction this year could mean spending over $300,000 per women prisoner, or over $43,000 for each of San Mateo County’s 1,009 prisoners.  Combined with the money it takes to actually imprison us, those resources could pay each prisoner to both have a living wage job that serves a community need and receive additional support with housing, healthcare, or treatment.

Why when you could use AB109 funds to support programs that help keep people out of jail would you choose to use our tax dollars instead to build more cells?

In a January 2012 op-ed in The Daily Journal, Tom Huening, San Mateo County Controller, wrote: “My job as controller is about county finance and, based upon our living off reserves for the last four years, I say we cannot afford a new jail. The $150 million to $200 million in potential lease finance (not voter approved bonds) is troubling, but the ongoing additional $30 million per year for operations is the budget buster.”

For years, you have approved devastating cuts to life-affirming programs.  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 of 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. You have cut millions of dollars from programs and services like children’s healthcare, wellness and behavioral health programs; substance abuse treatment; San Mateo Community colleges; parks; worker benefits; and domestic violence programs. These cuts have the largest impact on people who are marginalized by our economy: women, poor and working class people, people of color, people with disabilities and queer and gender-nonconforming people. The same communities fill our jail cells.  In San Mateo County, Black people are imprisoned at a rate more than 16 times that of white people. What does it say about our county if we’re willing to cut tens of millions from these programs while spending even more to build a new jail?

You have declared a shared vision of San Mateo County as “a safe, healthy, livable, prosperous, collaborative and environmentally conscious community.”  Cutting vital programs to build a new jail clearly violates that vision.

The County is faced with a stark and simple choice: it can invest AB109 funds in community-based programs that will improve the lives of people in San Mateo County – improving their educations, their job prospects, and their health, or it can pour more money into expanding a jail system that devastates our budget and further destabilizes our most vulnerable communities.

Sincerely,

 

San Mateo County Based Organizations and Individuals

Occupy Redwood City

Peninsula Interfaith Action, An Affiliate of the PICO National Network

Resilience Circle, Redwood City, Affiliate of the Resilience Circle Network

David Airey, resident of Redwood City

Anjalee Behti, resident of South San Francisco

Andrea Carrillo, resident of South San Francisco

Carolina Cayetano, resident of South San Francisco

Joanan Daly, resident of Redwood City

Casey Duffy, resident of Brisbane

Monica Fernandez, resident of South San Francisco

Austin Garcia, resident of San Mateo

Jade Garcia, resident of San Mateo

Martin Garcia, resident of San Mateo

Alexandra Gerodias, resident of South San Francisco

Bob Haslam, resident of San Mateo

Molly Haslam, resident of San Mateo

Alison Hicks

Manuel La Fontaine, resident of Daly City

Gloria Linda Maldonado, resident of Redwood City

Jennifer Martinez, Executive Director of Peninsula Interfaith Action

Brittney McCahill, resident of South San Francisco

Frank Montoro, resident of San Mateo

Pastor Jethroe Moore II, President of San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP

Dorsey Nunn, resident of Menlo Park

Bernadette Rabuy, resident of South San Francisco

Lourdes Rabuy, resident of South San Francisco

Octavio Rabuy, resident of South San Francisco

Carlos Tabora, resident of South San Francisco

Claudia Tabora, resident of South San Francisco

Irene Tabora, resident of South San Francisco

Veronica Tabora, resident of South San Francisco

Joanne Thompson, resident of San Carlos

John R. Thompson, resident of San Carlos from 1984-2003

Dr. G William Walster, Ph. D., resident of Cupertino

Statewide Organizations

ACLU of Northern California

ACLU of Southern California

All of Us or None

American Friends Service Committee

Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility

A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)

Berkeley Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution (NEED)

Break the Chains

California Coalition for Women Prisoners

California Partnership

California Prison Moratorium Project

Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice

Community Justice Network for Youth

Community Works West – Project WHAT!

Critical Resistance – Oakland

Development Services

Dignity In Schools: Golden Gate School of Law Chapter

Dolores Huerta Foundation

Drug Policy Alliance

El Cerrito Democratic Club

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Enlace

Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes

Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes – Bakersfield Chapter

Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes – Long Beach Chapter

Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal

Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace

Iraq Veterans Against the War – San Francisco Chapter

Justice Now

Justice Policy Institute

Juvenile Offenders Committee (JOC) – California Central Women’s Facility

La Raza Centro Legal

Labor/Community Strategy Center

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

National Lawyers Guild – Committee on Mass Incarceration

Occupy San Jose

Prison Activist Resource Center

Prison Policy Initiative

Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles

Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains

RUACH

San Gabriel Valley Progressives

Sentencing Project

Sisters of St. Joseph – Los Angeles

Students for Sensible Drug Policy – National Board of Directors

Students for Sensible Drug Policy – Chapter at Golden Gate University

The Other Death Penalty Project

Time for Change Foundation

Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project

Quaker Friends – Santa Cruz

W. Haywood Burns Institute

Women For Change Foundation, Inc.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – Santa Cruz Branch

Youth Communist League of Southern California

Youth Justice Coalition