(Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Sheriff’s Office seeking state grant for jail renovation project

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office is hoping to renovate an aging jail behind The City’s Hall of Justice with the help of state grant funding.

The sheriff’s office is seeking permission from the Board of Supervisors to apply for a $70 million state grant toward the renovation of County Jail #2 at 425 Seventh St.

The jail, which according to the sheriff’s office can currently accommodate 232 people outside of the medical and psychiatric facility it houses, suffers from a leaking roof, problems with the heating and ventilation system and some seismic issues, according to Sheriff Vickie Hennessy.

Originally designed as a work furlough facility with open dormitory-style facilities, it also lacks appropriate spaces for high-security prisoners, visiting rooms or programs, Hennessy said. In addition, its design includes mezzanine areas that prisoners have, in some cases, been able to jump from.

The proposed renovations would also restore the facility’s kitchen, which has been shut down for the past 10 years. The jail currently gets food from the kitchen in County Jail #4, a high-security facility on the top floor of the Hall of Justice that officials hope to eventually shut down due to extensive seismic and safety issues.

A proposal from the Sheriff’s office to use an $80 million state grant to replace the Hall of Justice jails was shot down in 2015 by the Board of Supervisors after intense public lobbying from groups arguing that The City should focus instead on reducing the inmate population.

However, Hennsessy Monday said that the proposed renovation was a project that would be needed regardless of whether a new facility was built or not. It will give some added flexibility in how prisoners are housed and provide better accommodations for those in jail but “it doesn’t give us any additional beds,” she said.

“All it does is upgrade the ones that we have, and it makes repairs that we would have to do anyway,” she said. “I think this is the right thing to do.”

The grant application is due to the state by Feb. 28, and the sheriff’s office is asking the Board of Supervisors to vote on it by Feb. 14.


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