Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Sheriff’s Office



January 21, 2008


February 5 , 2008







Honorable Board of Supervisors


Sheriff Greg Munks


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 anticipated Maple Street Facilities Replacement Project is complete.



Commitment: Ensure basic health and safety for all

Goal 7: Maintain and enhance the public safety of all residents and visitors

Goal 8: Help vulnerable people-the aged, disabled, mentally ill, at-risk youth and others-achieve a better quality of life.

The Sheriff is responsible for the care and custody of all adult incarcerated offenders in San Mateo County. As such, he is charged with operating safe and healthy correctional facilities supporting rehabilitation and self help programs that reduce recidivism and prepare inmates for re-entry into society. This is widely accepted as the only way to effectively address the revolving door of recidivism that we currently have. The re-opening of the Medium Security Facility (MCF) will offer some relief in jail crowding and will allow for improved programming and re-entry modules.



Both adult detention facilities in the County of San Mateo are severely over crowded. The Maguire Correctional Facility (MCF) had an average daily population (ADP) of 1012 inmates in 2007, although MCF is rated by the Corrections Standard Authority to safely house 688 inmates, and is operating 147% over capacity. Attachment D to this report is a Continuity of Operations Plan recently adopted by the Sheriff’s Office in response to the severe overcrowding experienced by MCF. Crowding at the Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) was even more acute. It is rated by the Corrections Standards Authority to safely house 84 female inmates, yet today it has an ADP of 144 inmates, creating intolerable conditions with the facility operating at 171% of capacity.

The severe overcrowding has been a critical issue for some time now. The San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury has noted these conditions in each of their last three yearly reports. These reports included unequivocal recommendations that the County take swift action to build a new detention facility. The Grand Jury complained that the current state of the County’s two adult detention facilities is unacceptable and is particularly offensive to female inmates whose crowded jail stifles programming and prevents meaningful family visitation opportunities. The California State Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) has also made note of the serious over crowding problem in our jails. Our CSA Field Representative recently stated that the San Mateo County Jails are the most over crowded facilities in the region he oversees.

A recent Needs Assessment also points out the significant deficiencies in the jails. Noting the lack of programming and crowded conditions, the report emphasizes the need to build more jail beds immediately. The assessment also clearly shows that there are simply no more opportunities to add additional beds at either MCF or WCC. Further increases in the ADP at either of these facilities would be legally risky and logistically problematic.

In September of 2007, the Board of Supervisors accepted a report from the Sheriff and County Manager outlining possible jail overcrowding relief measures (Attachment C). The Board of Supervisors requested a report back in January of 2008 with a recommendation on how to alleviate jail overcrowding. This report represents one of several recommendations on jail overcrowding relief which will address the immediate problem and assist with inmate housing demands when construction begins on the current site.

Over the last three years, a number of organizations and individuals have worked towards solutions to the jail over crowding problems. In 2005, the Board of Supervisors provided the impetus for the creation of the Jail Over Crowding Task Force (JOTF). The JOTF has met several times and continues to provide leadership as the county identifies and pursues over crowding solutions. Comprised of a diverse group of criminal justice officials in our county, including Supervisors Mark Church and Adrienne Tissier, the Sheriff, the District Attorney, the Court, the County Manager, the Chief Probation Officer, and others, the JOTF has provided a sounding board for jail crowding discussions and initiated the Needs Assessment.

Other committees have also been actively examining jail crowding. A committee comprised of county department heads has met on several occasions to prepare an application for funds in connection with the adoption of the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Act of 2007, also known as AB 900

Another committee has been working diligently to expand re-entry programs and opportunities for inmates in our jails. Led by Supervisors Adrienne Tissier and Rose Jacobs Gibson, this Re-entry Task Force (RTF) includes representatives from the Probation Department, Correctional Health, and the Sheriff’s Office. They have successfully launched an aggressive plan to identify and work with those inmates who would benefit from an intensive re-entry curriculum that is designed to ease their transition back into society. The RTF meets weekly and has the goal of reducing recidivism and easing jail crowding by placing eligible inmates into community programs.

In February of 2007, San Mateo County sponsored a Women’s Justice Summit to help identify the myriad of problems facing female offenders in San Mateo County’s criminal justice system. This highly successful event helped highlight possible solutions and generated meaningful dialogue. Bringing together recognized experts in women’s justice along with a large group of local community based organizations, the symposium provided impetus to the Sheriff’s Office proposals to build a new jail with space for gender specific programs dedicated to incarcerated female offenders

In addition to standing committees, the Sheriff’s office has been actively reviewing business practices in our jails to identify possible ways to reduce overcrowding. Recognizing the limitations of our Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), the Sheriff’s office procured a new software program that has increased the ability of the correctional facilities to gather and analyze data that resides within CJIS. The Jail Population Analysis System (JPAS) has assisted facility commanders in managing the inmate population more efficiently and assisted them in decision making as it relates to programming, crowding and inmate classification. Outside agencies such as the FBI, ICE, and local police departments have also benefitted from the data provided by JPAS.

Alternatives to incarceration for qualified inmates continue to be utilized by the Sheriff’s office in a prudent fashion. The First Chance program diverts over 3,000 DUI and drug offenders each year into an alternative to jail booking, saving thousands of jail bed days. The Sheriff’s Work Program (SWP) diverts an average of approximately 480 inmates from jail beds. SWP has proven to be an effective tool to both reduce over crowding while allowing some offenders to participate in a non custody program that assists the community as a whole. Other alternatives to incarceration include Work Furlough and Electronic Monitoring. The Sheriff’s office is committed to continue to look at ways to expand those alternatives with both available resources and public safety concerns in mind.

While current over crowding makes the provision of meaningful programming nearly impossible at the WCC and difficult at MCF, the Sheriff’s office remains committed to supporting and when possible expanding a wide variety of meaningful programs within San Mateo County adult correctional facilities. Currently, over fifteen different educational and cognitive thinking programs are offered at WCC and MCF. The Choices program is far and away the largest program offered with an average of 180 men and twenty women participating seven days a week. Other programs include Alcoholics Anonymous (English and Spanish), AIDS education and prevention, Communication skills, Domestic violence, GED tutoring and testing, job search skills and resume preparation, domestic violence prevention, narcotics anonymous, project READ, Step into Recovery, anger management, and parenting classes for female inmates.


In spite of the best efforts by the Sheriff, the Courts, Probation, and others in our criminal justice system, our two main adult detention facilities remain dangerously overcrowded, creating an environment for inmates that is not conducive to rehabilitation. Other counties in similar overcrowded conditions have been subject to adverse legal proceedings that include court ordered population caps, inmate lawsuits and severe financial penalties. It is with those potential pit falls in mind that the renovation and re-opening of the Medium Security Facility in La Honda is highly recommended.

Over the past few months, the Sheriff’s office has considered and continues to evaluate a wide range of options that may be available to help ease jail crowding. Doing nothing is not an option. As noted above, the legal jeopardy coupled with the continued lack of meaningful programming, particularly for female offenders, makes doing nothing untenable. The Sheriff’s office will also present a report concerning the possible renovation and re-opening of the detention area of the North County Jail in South San Francisco to house a gender-specific program for female inmates. These programs will be the beginning of the Sheriff’s office efforts to offer gender specific and relevant programming that will meet the needs of our female inmate population while satisfying the desires of the Board of Supervisors to assist our women inmates. All costs and pertinent information regarding this option are clearly spelled out in a separate agenda transmittal that is specific to the North County Jail.

The possible use of out -of- county beds is an option the Sheriff’s office has explored. In a memo co-authored by County Manager John Maltbie and presented to you on September 25th, the pros, cons and costs of such an option is discussed (Attachment C). That memo outlines the costs of out- of-county beds to be about $110 dollars per inmate per day. Housing 116 out- of- county inmates, the same number that would be housed at a re-opened MSF, would cost about $4.7 million dollars a year. This option holds promise in the future, particularly if the need to temporarily relocate inmates during the construction of a new jail occurs. Additionally, utilization of outside the county beds could be viable as a stop gap measure when over crowding at MCF becomes acute. But there are pitfalls to long term reliance on out -of- county beds. The fragile status of the state prison system is a grave concern for California counties. A three federal courts judge panel is currently considering large scale litigation based on prison over crowding. If the panel imposes a cap on the population of the state prison system, all California counties will be faced with a significant increase in inmate population. Counties that are relying on other counties for jail space run the significant risk of being summarily evicted from their rented beds and would face serious consequences. Additionally, the Governor is contemplating the early release of over 22,000 state inmates from the state prison system. This would undoubtedly increase the ADP of all local county jails. The option of re-opening county owned facilities is preferable. Other drawbacks to utilizing outside county beds include possible conflicts with the MOU between the county and the Deputy Sheriff’s Association, legal liability issues, limited cost controls and the obvious logistical problems for inmates and their families surrounding visitation and connections to their home community. Attachment A of this report succinctly outlines some of the pros and cons of both out-of-county bed reliance and re-opening MSF.

The Sheriff’s office has also considered the addition of portable trailers to temporarily house inmates. In addition to being expensive with a price tag of over a half million dollars for a portable to house 40 inmates, these portables naturally require water, sewer, electrical and security improvements. These services are both expensive and problematic. For example, the current Maple Street Facility Complex might have room to add a portable, but the site could not sustain additional water and sewer demands. Portables amount to a less than viable alternative.

As previously stated, the Sheriff’s office is recommending that the Board of Supervisors authorize the Sheriff to coordinate and supervise the renovation, staffing and re-opening of San Mateo County’s Medium Security Facility in La Honda. This facility will be capable of housing 116 male inmates in a safe and secure manner. The benefits of such an action are many. First, it will provide a modicum of relief from the serious over crowding that plagues the Maguire facility. Second, it is a facility that the county owns and as such is a county asset that could be used after its temporary use as a correctional facility which is estimated to be five to six years. Third, the re-opening of MSF would allow for a gender specific program, such as intensive domestic violence, drug abuse, job counseling, anger management, and other important programs aimed at the male population. Other benefits include a relatively quick start -up time, an attractive per jail bed construction cost, and a low impact on surrounding communities. It is also interesting to note that our CSA Field Representative toured MSF just a month ago and commented that MSF could serve San Mateo County well as a partial solution to the jail over crowding problem. Attachment B to this report demonstrates an inmate deployment matrix that the Sheriff’s Office could use as the inmate population rises and falls.

The re-opening of MSF will take approximately four months following approvals from the Board of Supervisors. Two months into the renovation, operational staff will be- gin to be utilized for the creation of staffing plans and policies and procedures. The Sheriff’s office suggests that the renovation be done immediately. This will put into place an important over flow housing option and accomplish the renovation at today’s cost, avoiding future construction cost increases. The Sheriff’s office has prepared an inmate deployment matrix that will dictate exactly when MSF and outside county jail beds could be utilized. That plan is attachment B of this report. This plan explains the contingencies for inmate transfers between facilities prior to the commencement of construction. It is envisioned that if the current Maple Street complex is the location chosen for the new jail, MSF and outside jail beds will be needed during the entire construction time frame, estimated to be 36 months. The Sheriff’s office will need to temporarily house approximately 170-190 inmates during the construction period.



Costing is based on an assumption of a 116-inmate population, with start-up activities taking place between now and June 30, 2008, and an operational start-up date of July, 2008:

Net one-time re-commissioning costs estimated to be $499,175 do not include a recent culvert failure on Camp Pomponio Road that serves MSF, but does include repairs, re-commissioning, and restored service renovations by Public Works, Information Services, Food Services, and the use of inmate work crews whenever possible. A significant portion of this cost is for repairs related to theft and vandalism. The total one-time cost is $777,308, but these costs would be offset by $278,133 in estimated insurance recoveries, and some existing budgeted funds, leaving a net re-commissioning cost of approximately one-half million dollars. It is assumed all re-commissioning costs would be expended in fiscal year 07-08.

Net ongoing annual operating costs, commencing in FY 2008-09, are estimated to be $4,733,772. This includes $4,800,000 for direct operations; $288,000 for inmate transportation; $117,000 for Correctional health services; and $109,000 for inmate programming. Of these direct costs, approximately $563,830 (12%) can be funded through existing budgets and funding sources.

The gross total inmate jail bed day cost for MSF is $125 per day, but through application of the offsetting funding sources, the net per-day costs is reduced to about $112, which is comparable to the out-of-county contract rate of $110 per inmate bed day and our existing jail bed day costs at MCF and WCC.



ATTACHMENT A- MSF/Out of County Comparative Analysis

ATTACHMENT B- Sheriff’s Inmate Deployment Matrix

ATTACHMENT C- Sept. 25, 2007 memo from Sheriff and CM to BOS

ATTACHMENT D- MCF Operational Plan