SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The mayor and sheriff of San Francisco announced Tuesday that the city is closing one of its jails, which one supervisor described as “dangerous, dilapidated, seismically unfit.”
At a press conference on noon Tuesday, Mayor London Breed and Sheriff Paul Miyamoto declared the city’s intentions to close San Francisco County Jail #4 on Saturday, Sept. 5. It’s the third jail to be closed in San Francisco since 2010.
“San Francisco has led the nation in advancing justice reforms for decades, and the closure of County Jail #4 is part of our broader efforts to shift resources towards alternatives to incarceration that are more effective at creating a safer society for us all,” Breed said.
City supervisors Matt Haney and Sandra Lee Fewer began pushing to close the jail last year, following several reports of quality of life issues such as exploding toilets, sewage leaking through the ceilings, rat infestations, and asbestos.
After Breed announced a plan to close the jail no later than July 2021, the board passed legislation to move that deadline to November 2020.
Upon hearing the news, the supervisors celebrated on Twitter.
“I am thrilled we are closing County Jail 4 earlier than expected, given the incredible safety hazards associated with this facility,” Supervisor Fewer tweeted. “Our legislation significantly sped up the timeline, and in recent months the City has maintained a significant decrease in the jail population.”
Built in 1961, Jail #4 and the courthouse building where it’s located, 850 Bryant, has long been seen as a hazard. The city began considering plans for demolishing the structure back as early as 1996.
“When I became Sheriff, I committed to closing County Jail #4. It had outlived its useful life and was seismically unsafe, putting the people in custody, Sheriff’s staff, contractors and the visiting public at risk,” Sheriff Miyamoto said.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the city’s plans to decrease the jail’s population. While the jail holds 402 beds, as of Tuesday, the jail held just 77 inmates. The sheriff’s office removed inmates to decrease the potential spread of the coronavirus and has succeeded in preventing outbreaks in the county’s jails. The city plans to move the remaining inmates to County Jail #5 in San Bruno or County Jail #2 at 425-7th Street in San Francisco.
At the press conference, Breed noted that the jail’s closure is also about the city moving away from incarceration and reducing recidivism.
“We are all safer if we invest in measures that address the root causes of the majority of criminal behavior,” Breed said. “This includes keeping up our programs to divert people to services instead of incarceration, and offering pretrial diversion for those who do not pose a danger to themselves or others with our partners in the court and criminal justice system.”