by Ivette Alé
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 no