San Francisco, Peninsula jails brace for extra inmates 

Jails and probation departments in San Francisco and San Mateo counties could be responsible for hundreds of new low-level offenders — and potentially significant new costs — under a state plan to shift some convicts to local governments, officials said.

While the state would still incarcerate violent and high-risk offenders, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to send most criminals who are not sex offenders and who committed nonviolent or nonserious crimes, such as drug and property crimes, to county jails and probation departments instead of state prison and parole.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office estimates it would obtain an extra 400 inmates per year, or about 33 per month, with few places to put them. The county’s jails are rated for 843 beds but currently house about 1,000 inmates, and a new 748-bed facility to relieve overcrowding is still in the planning stages.

Based on the current cost of housing a male inmate — $169.92 a day, or $62,000 per year — those new inmates, expected to serve an average of about 13 months, would cost $27 million annually.

Local officials say they support the idea of “realignment,” which is intended to reduce the state’s $26 billion deficit, but the state only proposes to pay counties $25,000 per inmate, regardless of their sentence, Assistant Sheriff Trisha Sanchez said.

“For us, if you just do the math, we could have a significant shortfall,” Sanchez said.

State officials believe the proposal provides “adequate funding” to counties, which are better able to provide substance abuse treatment and other services to keep prisoners from reoffending, said Oscar Hidalgo, spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“It’s hopefully a win-win, where ultimately it’s costing less money to keep [them] at the county level, and public safety is improving,” Hidalgo said.

San Francisco Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Eileen Hirst declined to predict how many new inmates the county’s four jails could expect. But significantly increasing the 2,080-bed capacity of San Francisco County’s four jails would involve re-opening a 372-bed facility at the jail complex in San Bruno.

The San Mateo County Probation Department would be responsible for supervising an extra 400 to 600 low-level offenders and parolees in addition to the approximately 5,000 adults and 2,000 juveniles it currently monitors, Chief Probation Officer Stuart Forrest said.

San Francisco’s Probation Department predicts it will have 400 to 700 extra adults to monitor, Chief Adult Probation Officer Wendy Still said.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the state plan also requires local courts to hear parole violations, which currently are handled by the state. That could burden courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys, he said.

Impacts of realignment

Officials in San Mateo and San Francisco counties estimate the governor’s realignment plan will add to their workload:


Now: About 1,000 inmates, rated for 843 beds
Realignment prediction: Add an estimated 33 inmates per month

Now: Monitors 5,000 adults and 2,000 juveniles
Realignment prediction: Add an additional 400 to 600 offenders


Now: About 1,800 inmates, rated for 2,080 beds
Realignment prediction: Unknown

Adult probation
Now: Monitors 6,300 adults
Realignment prediction: Add an additional 400 to 700 offenders

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Shaun Bishop

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