S.F. may shutter San Bruno jailBy Erin Sherbert
The San Francisco County jail in San Bruno will be closed and most of its 360 inmates released under a budget deficit plan proposed by the sheriff.
Closing the jail would save about $8 million, County Sheriff Mike Hennessey said, adding that the San Francisco mayor asked him to cut $5 million from the sheriff's department budget.
Hennessey said he should know in about 30 days whether the jail is going to close. They would start releasing prisoners shortly after that.
San Bruno City Councilman Jim Ruane said the potential closure will have no negative impact on San Bruno.
Most of the inmates are non-violent offenders and would be placed on house arrest or put into treatment and counseling programs. About $3 million will be shifted from the jail budget to pay for these programs.
Sex offenders and violent criminals will be transferred to the Hall of Justice jail complex in downtown San Francisco, Hennessey said.
"If I were the mayor and I had to close a hospital or a jail with non-violent offenders, I'd pick the jail," Hennessey said. "It's the most responsible way to reduce the corrections program. There's nothing else that can save $5 million."
Already in the past year, Hennessey has saved about $1.6 million by freezing 20 vacant positions and reducing overtime. The department's jail budget is about $75 million.
He said it's too early to tell whether employees at the jail will be laid off if the facility closes.
The jail, located in unincorporated San Mateo County at 1 Moreland Dr., opened in 1989 and is the smallest of all the County's six facilities. A portion of the jail was closed two years ago when San Francisco's jail population was low.
The move would not affect the new jail building under construction next door to the existing facility. Though also in unincorporated San Mateo County, the new jail will also be run by San Francisco County.
Hennessey, who said he's confident closing this jail is the "most responsible way" to save money, said releasing prisoners isn't unique here. On the state level Gov. Gray Davis has vowed to close some jail facilities.
"We're not releasing them scot free," Hennessey said, adding that most of the inmates who would be released are 60 days away from their release dates. "We'll be cautious about the people (released).
Copyright ©2003 San Mateo County Times. Published 01/16/2003.