SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi lobbied San Francisco lawmakers Wednesday to pursue state money to build replacements for two aging city jails, over the objections of opponents wary of jail expansion.
The city urgently needs to address conditions at the jail facilities inside the Hall of Justice, Mirkarimi told the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee, because conditions on the top floors are now so deplorable that some family visits take place in an old bathroom.
“There’s a shower, a former urinal and an area so that a parent who’s incarcerated and its child can have this visitation experience,” he said. “We should never have allowed these conditions to persist.”
Critics testified that building more jails would ultimately result in the city incarcerating more inmates, misgivings shared by some of the supervisors on the committee.
Mirkarimi countered that the new jails would reduce the number of beds by one-third and, like the county’s newer jails, be designed to promote prisoner rehabilitation.
Supervisor Eric Mar dissented in the 2 – 1 vote to recommend pursuing the state funding. The full Board of Supervisors must still vote before Mirkarimi receives final permission to apply for the $80 million grant.
Replacing the two jails is estimated to cost $290 million in total.
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