San Francisco faces spending bump as new inmates flood into jails 

The influx of hundreds of state inmates into San Francisco jails will force The City to spend millions more dollars and heighten its challenge of keeping ex-convicts out of trouble.

San Francisco is preparing for an increase of about 700 inmates and parolees within the next year as a result of the state’s so-called realignment plan. The shifting of state prisoners to San Francisco and other counties is projected to save the state $1.4 billion.

Those being transferred to county supervision under the realignment program are non-violent offenders with sentences ranging from 16 months to 3 years. Although city officials plan to re-open a jail in San Bruno to absorb the new inmates, some of them won’t go to jail but be supervised by the Adult Probation Department.

In order to help San Francisco absorb the impact, the state will provide $5.7 million. The City, meanwhile, earmarked $4.8 million to handle the increased jail population.

That extra funding is still inadequate for an already strained system, city officials said during the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee hearing on realignment Thursday.

“Every department in this room will tell you [the funding is] not adequate to meet the staffing needs that we would prefer to have to deal with this population,” said Greg Wagner, Mayor Ed Lee’s budget director.

There is also concern the financial hit could be much worse. Wagner said that “we could be talking about $10 million more than this” if the state’s projections on are off and the county jail reaches capacity.

The City’s public safety leaders are viewing realignment as an opportunity to improve the criminal justice system. The inmate population coming to The City has a 77 percent recidivism rate.

“We have an opportunity to provide better services to this population so that over time - I don’t know what the magic time would be - you would start seeing people more successful with re-entry [into society],” undersheriff Jan Dempsey said.

Under the state program, The City must adopt a budget and plan to handle the jail population by Oct. 1.


Under the state’s criminal justice realignment plan The City faces an increase in necessary spending.

700: Total # former state inmates shifted to supervision of SF Adult Probation Department
175: Estimated # of those state inmates in need of housing assistance
$5.7M: State funding for 700 inmates
$4.8M: Money allocated in city budget for inmates
$176M: Sheriff’s total budget

Source: Mayor’s Office/draft Realignment Plan, mayor’s budget

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