Inter-Departmental Correspondence





January 21, 2008


February 5, 2008







Honorable Board of Supervisors


Sheriff Greg Munks


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Re-opening of San Mateo County’s Medium Security Facility in La Honda



Accept the report and provide direction on a temporary reopening of San Mateo County’s Medium Security Facility in La Honda. A re-opened MSF will serve as a sentenced inmate, Re-entry Program for men for a period of five to six years, or until the Maple Street Facilities Replacement Project is completed.



The recommended action aligns with Vision 2010 Commitments Nos. 7 and 8.


Both adult detention facilities in the County of San Mateo are severely overcrowded. The Maguire Correctional Facility (MCF) had an average daily population (ADP) of 1012 inmates in 2007. While MCF is rated for 688 inmates, it has consistently operated at 147% over capacity. Crowding at the Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) has been even more acute with an ADP of 144 and a rated capacity of 84, creating intolerable conditions with the facility operating at 171% of capacity.

The Sheriff’s Office is approaching its jail crowding problems with a multi dimensional solutions matrix. This Matrix recognizes the immediacy of the need to provide jail beds to minimize current crowding, and emphasizes the need for a jail facility to house approximately 200 inmates displaced by the anticipated demolition of the current WCC and Minimum Security Transitional Facility (MSTF), to make way for a new jail. MSF would provide a temporary short term solution for an immediate overcrowding condition.

The serious over crowding conditions in our jails has been recognized by the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury, the California Corrections Standards Authority and the County’s own consultant, DMJM H&N. The conclusion reached by all of these groups is unequivocal; more jail beds need to be provided/built immediately. Both the WCC and MCF fail to meet the accepted minimum standards for jails in California, and make the usage of best correctional practices difficult and in some cases impossible.

For the last three years, a number of organizations and individuals have worked towards finding solutions to the jail crowding problem. These include the Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff, the County Manager, the District Attorney, and other county officials. Together, they have comprised a number of committees including the Jail Overcrowding Task Force, a Re-Entry Task Force and a working group studying the implications of AB 900 and its potential benefits.

In addition to standing committees, the Sheriff’s Office has been actively reviewing its own business practices to identify possible internal solutions to jail crowding. A new data collection software program has been added. Alternatives to jail incarceration such as the Sheriff’s Work Program (SWP), First Chance DUI diversion, Electronic Monitoring, and Work Furlough have continued to provide alternatives to incarceration, while keeping public safety concerns in mind.

The Sheriff’s Office continues to offer a wide range of inmate programs. While severely hamstrung by crowding issues, on-going inmate programming continues to provide opportunities to inmates for self-improvement and preparation for re-entry into society. However, current crowded conditions present serious limitations for providing inmate services.

Other options to relieve jail crowding have also been considered, including leasing jail beds from another county, adding correctional portable trailers and other housing configurations within the confines of the MCF and WCC. It is likely that a combination of out of county leasing options and the temporary re-opening of MSF will be needed as a solution.




In spite of the best efforts described above, overcrowding in our jails makes it difficult or impossible to comply with legal mandates regarding the operation of the jail. The other options examined mentioned are either cost prohibitive, logistically impossible or offer a limited amount of overcrowding relief. The Sheriff’s office recommends the Board of Supervisors authorize the re-opening of San Mateo County’s Medium Security Facility in La Honda. The Sheriff’s Office suggests that construction renovations begin by March 1st, 2008 with an eight week construction time frame. Immediate renovation will eliminate construction inflationary factors that would increase the project cost.






The fiscal impact is divided into two components: one-time re-commissioning costs to re-open the facility, which would be incurred this fiscal year between February through June; and on-going costs to operate the facility, which would be incurred beginning in FY 2008-09, and continue for 5-6 years until a permanent new facility is completed.

One-time re-commissioning and facility repair/renovation costs are projected at $777,308, with projected insurance reimbursements and partial funding from existing budgets reducing this down to a “net new-dollar cost” of $499,175. This estimate was developed in collaboration with Public Works, Information Services, Correctional Health, and Food Services staff. We have not yet had a final State Fire Marshall decision on a few fire safety issues. The results of that inquiry could increase one-time costs, although a contingency estimate of $20,000 is included in the re-commissioning cost estimate for possible mitigation measures.

On-going costs are projected to be approximately $5,300,000 million per year, which is offset by $563,830 from existing budgets and other sources, for a net annual new-dollar cost of $4,733,772. This includes minimum staffing levels of ten Deputy Sheriff’s, five Correctional Officers and five Sergeants to operate the facility on a seven day, 24-hour basis, with built-in relief staffing. Also included are Service Charges for food, facilities, radio/telephone/data communications, inmate clothing & bedding, inmate transportation, Correctional Health Services, and $109,000 for inmate programming.

The net per-day costs are about $112, which is comparable to the out-of-county contract rate of $110 per inmate bed day and existing jail bed day costs at MCF and WCC.