by Mark Martinho
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Mark Martinho ~ June 30, 2010

The Plot Thickens Around the New Jail!

Yesterdays San Mateo Council meeting was interesting. Sheriff Munks accused Redwood City’s council of thwarting the Sheriff’s efforts to find a location for the new jail. Specifically, the City Council actually purchased property to prevent the County from buying it themselves for the purpose of building the new jail. It appears that in the past few days, the City and the Sheriff have decided to try to work together to find a new location for the jail that is less offensive to the citizens of Redwood City. So, the ultimate location remains a mystery for now. 
But the plot thickens even more. No surprise, local governments are getting screwed by the state. California is changing its rules regarding who qualifies to be incarcerated in a state prison. I believe the old rule was that those who were to serve more then one year would go to a state prison [don’t hold me to it]. However the state is changing the rule to those serving three or more years. This means that more prisoners will stay in county jails. The sheriff estimates that this will likely add about 500 prisoners to our jails. Conclusion, we absolutely need a bigger jail and there’s no word on whether state will contribute funds to the county for these inmates or if we get stuck with the bill? What do you think a bankrupt state will do?

I can’t believe that no one was shocked? As Sheriff Munks described the new jail, he discussed the staff need to run the new facility. It will require 142 people with a budget of $32M for salaries. No one blinked? That’s an average of $225K per person! That’s outrageous compensation.

The semi-good news is that about 60 of these people are already on the payroll at the women’s jail which would be closed down and everyone would transfer over to the new facility. The bad news is that the new facility would likely cost tax payers at least an extra $20M per year if the state does not kick in funds.

The jail may cost $160M to build, but once its built, that’s it. However spending $32M per year to staff it is the shocker. This cost will only go up year after year and these are more jobs that will eventually lead to retirements with extremely costly benefit packages to the taxpayer. We of course need to address the jail issue, but when are going to address the compensation and retirement benefits of public employees? These are bankrupting the state and are completely out of step with those of us in the private sector.

The biggest problem that needs addressing just keeps being ignored and everyone marches on!