Redwood City jail plan faces added expenses 

The price tag for a new county jail is on the rise.

The latest plans presented to the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday reveal an $18.7 million increase in the annual cost to staff and operate the new $150 million jail proposed for Redwood City.

The county currently spends $56 million each year to run its correctional facilities. Adding the bigger jail would boost that cost to $74.8 million, according to preliminary plans produced by San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks.

The majority of the extra cost — $17.4 million — would pay for staffing, he said.

The Board of Supervisors and sheriff have expressed a dire need for a new jail to alleviate gross overcrowding at existing facilities. The county needs 472 more beds to relieve current jail congestion, Munks said. Its two existing facilities — the Maguire Correctional Facility and Maple Street Jail — house on average 1,098 male and female inmates.

The proposed county jail would not only fill the 472-bed quota, but include an additional 296 beds for future growth, the sheriff said.

Plans for a new jail would allow the county to decommission the aging Maple Street Jail. The proposed 768-bed facility for men and women would consist of six floors, with inmate housing located on the top three floors, Munks said.

It would include housing for transitional inmates and programs such as culinary classes, vocational training and others that reduce recidivism.

The extra space and programs, however, will require more staff. About 75 positions at the Maple Street Jail will transfer to the new facility, but another 70 staffers will need to be hired, Munks said.

The county can save about $4.3 million annually if it opts to partially complete one of the inmate housing floors, eliminating 256 beds. But the cost to complete the floors at a later date is projected to rise, Munks said.

Aside from cost increases, the location of the proposed jail remains an issue. Redwood City opposes the proposal to place the site on county-owned land downtown, saying it would hurt the area’s revitalization efforts.

The Board of Supervisors said Tuesday it wants to wait until a site for the new jail is set before accepting the costs or construction plans.

On Tuesday, Munks told the Board of Supervisors he is working with the city on an alternate site east of U.S. Highway 101, around Chemical Way. He said he will report within 60 days on whether that site is viable.

Cost of change

San Mateo County is looking at building a new 768-bed jail facility for men and women in Redwood City.

$150 million:
Estimated cost of new San Mateo County jail
$56 million: Current county annual spending on correctional facilities
$74.8 million: Estimated annual spending for new jail
472: Jail beds needed to relieve overcrowding
1,098: Average inmates daily
296: Additional beds in new jail

Source: San Mateo County

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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