Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Sheriff’s Office



January 21, 2008


February 5, 2008







Honorable Board of Supervisors


Sheriff Greg Munks


Gender Responsive Re-Entry Program for Women at the North County Correctional Facility



Accept the report and provide direction on the Gender Responsive Re-Entry Program for Women Inmates at the North County Correctional Facility, for a period of five to six years, or until the anticipated Maple Street Facilities Replacement Project is completed.



Commitment: Ensure basic health and safety for all

Goal(s): This recommended action aligns with Vision 2020 Commitments Nos. 4,6,7 and 8



The current Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) houses between 135 and 175 inmates each day. The facility, rated by the State for 84 inmates’ total, is limited both in space and design, lacking common rooms for inmate programming or visiting. The facility has only four small dorms to house both sentenced and pre-trial inmates, restricting flexibility in the classification of inmates.

The last two years, the Grand Jury has reviewed San Mateo County’s correctional facilities and has recommended improving conditions – both space and inmate program services – for our female inmate population. In its July 2006 report, the Grand Jury concluded, “the Women’s Correctional Facility is well managed and well run, but the physical plant is a crowded disgrace and must be replaced”, and went on to recommend, “the Sheriff of San Mateo County should move as quickly as possible to do everything within his jurisdiction to relieve overcrowding…” One year later, in its July 2007 report, the Grand Jury reviewed the County’s efforts at replacing the facility and additionally recommended that the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff, “identify and promptly implement interim solutions to overcrowding at the existing Women’s Correctional Center” and “take into account the special needs of women, … including…. programs to facilitate a phased transition from incarceration into society.” The recent Women’s Criminal Justice Summit meeting also focused attention on the need to improve environmental conditions, and enhance programming for women inmates.

While important progress on replacing the Maple Street Correctional Facilities is being made, we face two immediate issues: continued, chronic overcrowding in our existing Women’s Correctional Center, and lack of meaningful re-entry programs. Programming space is essential to improve the conditions and treatment for women offenders until a new facility can be built. Effective re-entry programs can reduce recidivism over the long-term, positively impacting our communities and the rising jail population. We must implement an interim option to mitigate overcrowding and include ways to provide meaningful opportunities to teach our current female inmates improved behaviors until the new facility is constructed and in operation.



The report previously submitted to the Board on September 25, 2007 presented findings outlining eligible inmates for a gender-responsive, in-custody program – which revealed a facility/program need for up to 40 women inmates. If up to 40 sentenced women could be relocated out of the Women’s Correctional Center and into a specialized program, we can accomplish the following:

    Mitigate (while not eliminating) overcrowding at WCC, lowering the daily population range to 95 – 135.

    Eliminate the current need to have inmates sleep on the floor when the WCC population reaches 155

    Eliminate the need to use the Maguire Facility’s Overflow Housing Unit for women inmates, as the Unit is currently needed for overflow housing for men

    Increase and enhance programming services for women inmates at WCC: Currently, they have to compete for space in the existing Choices program; for use of computers; and for seating in the common area when general program service providers visit the inmates

    Expand our intensive programming services for women inmates beyond the current Choices Program, which is limited to 26 inmates, and offer a pilot, gender-responsive re-entry program for up to 40 sentenced inmates in a designated correctional facility

I. Site Options Analysis

Three options were evaluated for establishing a secured correctional facility for up to 40 women, to implement a gender-responsive re-entry program.

Mobile Trailers on the Maple Street Correctional Facility Grounds

This option involves the installation of temporary, mobile trailers for housing and program use next to the Women’s Correctional Center on the Maple Street facilities grounds. This option was eliminated for two primary reasons: a) The trailers cannot provide a secure environment for the classification of in-custody women we are housing – it is not possible based on both security issues and basic facility requirements established by the Corrections Standards Authority; and b) the Board may elect to build the new detention facility on this same site, and any temporary trailers would need to be cleared for the construction phase, thus negating the value of any investment to purchase and install mobile units.

San Mateo Medical Center Psychiatric Facilities

This option involves reopening the secure ward at the San Mateo Medical Center, which ceased housing hospitalized inmates in the early 1990s. This ward was designed and equipped as a secure, locked location at the hospital for inmates. It has the bed space for up to 40 inmates, as well as programming space, and close access to medical care for inmates. However, we have learned that this space is currently under consideration for alternative uses by the Medical Center at the time of this report, and it is therefore not available for the Sheriff’s use.

North County Correctional Facility

This option involves reopening the secure correctional facility in South San Francisco, adjacent to the North County Courthouse. This facility, currently vacant, was used up until 1996 as a booking and holding facility by the Sheriff. This option appears to be the most viable from an operational standpoint. It can house up to 40 women and has the programming space for an intensive, gender-responsive re-entry program. It will require some renovations to update the facilities – some due to modifications made after 1996 when other county agencies used the facilities. It could become operable within six months from approval. It should be noted that preliminary discussions have begun between the Sheriff and South San Francisco officials for gender specific programming and housing at the North County Correctional Facility.

However, there are presently significant fire-related issues with the facility. Because the facility was closed as a jail facility for several years, it cannot be “grandfathered in” under the previous codes. The State Fire Marshal has inspected the facility recently, and has denied a preliminary request for its re-commissioning, based on the lack of a sprinkler system, an incomplete fire alarm system, and some needed improvements in the kitchen area. The cost for these improvements is tentatively projected at $275,000: $25,000 for evaluation and $250,000 for actual construction. Following completion of improvements, the facility would require re-inspecting by the State Fire Marshal and re-certification by CDCR.

II. Gender-Responsive Re-entry Program, Timeline and Resources Required

Program Impact

Female inmates typically have greater family responsibilities placed on them than males, and the lives of their children are impacted to a greater degree by their mother’s involvement in the criminal justice system. Correctional systems must take into account the physical, behavioral and cultural differences between female and male offenders and how those differences can be reflected in program design. A significant number of female inmates who abuse substances also have histories of trauma and physical or sexual abuse. Also important is the degree to which an individual is motivated and ready for change and factors such as personal and family criminal attitudes.

While female inmates share many of the same clinical issues faced by other women receiving substance abuse or other treatment, some of their issues are unique. For example, many female inmates have problems breaking the cycle of criminal thinking and values, violence, and abuse. Women inmates often have difficulty dealing with anger and hostility and carry the stigma of being criminals, along with the accompanying guilt and shame. A large majority of women inmates grew up in dysfunctional or even criminally-oriented family systems where their needs as children were never addressed. Consequently, as parents they lack the skills to provide for the emotional and developmental needs of their own children. They are further compromised by their addiction, which becomes their primary relationship. Their relationships with men are often characterized by abuse and victimization and in some cases by prostitution to support their addicted lifestyle.

The connection between addiction and trauma (interpersonal violence) is threefold: substance-abusing men are often violent towards women and children, substance-abusing women are vulnerable targets for violence, and childhood and current abuse increases a women’s risk of substance abuse.

Dr. Stephanie Covington’s research has shown that there are at minimum three key issues a woman inmate needs to address: her childhood experience; personal trauma experienced; and parenting issues. Chemically dependent women often come from dysfunctional family systems that did not support their normal social development. The disease of addiction affects a woman’s emotional, social, and sexual development, and she basically stops developing emotionally once her substance use begins. One of the most basic developmental gaps is the evolution of a cohesive sense of self. The lack of a cohesive sense of self can be repaired by the process of learning new parenting skills. By participating in an all-female treatment setting—one operated in a healthy, functional model, with appropriate controls, limit setting and boundaries, nurturing, and mirroring of the women’s experience—a woman can learn to become a better parent. Better parenting skills should lessen the chance their children will follow in their path, and thus producing a more effective and socialized human being.

The Gender-responsive, Women’s Re-Entry Program will develop a supportive and safe environment where women can begin to connect with qualified counselors who will assist them in their journey of self discovering and begin to change the patterns that lead to criminal behavior. This program offers incarcerated women the opportunity to address their issues and behaviors in a controlled and safe environment so that they may return to their family and community as productive members of society.

III. Program Design

The anticipated program will be 60 to 365 days in length, conducted five days per week, five hours per day for a minimum total of 300 hours of counseling and education for each inmate. Each inmate will move through a three-phase program that allows for deeper understanding of herself, her behaviors, her thoughts and capabilities.

Based on the RFI (Request for Information) responses, the program will provide the following components:

    General Education Diploma (GED) preparedness, on-site math, reading, writing education though a partnership with the South San Francisco Adult School

    Vocational training through a partnership with the San Mateo County Vocational Education Department

    Through a primary provider contract, some combination of services will be provided: parenting, pre-parenting and child development classes, group process sessions to address self-image and trauma issues, healthy relationships, family education, sexual abuse, medical, housing, financial, literacy, job training issues, and essential living skills, problem solving skills, drug and alcohol education, mental health education, physical exercise, discharge planning, 12-Step education, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, TB and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) education.

    The program will also offer the opportunity for inmates involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) to re-gain custody of their children (once the mother is released) by offering on-site supervised visits.

The program will integrate several curricula from a broad range of evidence-based work from Dr. Stephanie Covington (“Helping Women Recover”) and Lisa Najavitz, (“Seeking Safety”). The program will incorporate “A Women’s Way Through the 12 Steps”, “A Women’s Journal” and “Helping Women’s Recovery” workbooks, Special Edition for women in the criminal justice system.

Inmates will specifically learn about the physiological and psychological aspects of addiction, and develop the psychological and emotional tools to maintain abstinence, and to deal with craving and other withdrawal symptoms. General clinical strategies that will be implemented include interventions to address criminal thinking and to provide basic problem-solving skills, along with therapy strategies that include motivational interviewing and cognitive behavior therapy.

IX. Program Implementation: Timeline and Requirements

The program will take approximately six months to implement. The Sheriff’s Office will work with the County’s Department of Public Works, Information Services Department, and other partners to ready the facility between approval and June 30, 2008. We hope to relocate inmates and implement program services beginning in Summer, 2008.

A Request for Information (RFI) was sent out and posted on the County’s website last month inviting program service providers to submit information and interest in implementing a gender-specific re-entry program for a group of up to 40 female, in-custody offenders. The Sheriff’s Office has received four responses of ability from some existing, qualified community based organizations in the County and we anticipate a healthy response to the RFP.

The costs to implement the program are broken out in two categories: One-time, capital and equipment costs estimated at $609,380, and net annual operational costs estimated at $2,179,550. The start up costs would be required this fiscal year to begin preparation, while the operational costs would be incurred starting in FY 2008-09.

Start-up costs are related to preparation of the building (DPW renovation, retrofit new fire sprinkler system, hydraulic test, new fire panel, ISD connectivity, and security monitoring/surveillance systems), the purchase of a van to move inmate meals and laundry between Maguire and the North County Correctional Facility, and facility equipment (bunks, food service travel trays and delivery carts, radios and computers.)

The staffing required to operate a secure, in- custody environment with a gender-responsive program at the North County Correctional Facility is a total of nine new positions: eight sworn staff and one social worker. The eight sworn positions will operate the custody facility 24/7 with four teams of two staff each: one Deputy Sheriff and one Correctional Officer. This is considered bare minimum staffing. It may become necessary to supplement supervisory level staff during key operating hours, given the facility’s remote location from other Sheriff’s staff. The Social Worker will coordinate with and provide administrative support to the program service provider ultimately selected to provide the gender-responsive program; will act as liaison between the sworn staff working at the facility, program provider staff, and County Probation; and will report to the Program Services Manager currently at Maguire Correctional Facility. The annual staffing cost is estimated at $1,739,570.

Additional funding requirements for this program include the annual cost of operating the facility, estimated at $464,074. This includes DPW facility lease/maintenance charges, ISD charges, food services meals for inmates, laundry and housekeeping, correctional health services, and transportation costs. Food service will be provided out of the Maguire kitchen and transported by van once daily.

The program service provider cost is presently estimated at $142,886 pending outcome of an RFP process.

This facility will be needed through the opening of the new correctional facility replaces the current Maple Street Correctional Facilities, but not beyond that. The Sheriff plans to operate the North County Correctional Facility as a Women’s in-custody gender responsive, re-entry program only until the new facility is built, but transfer the program and lessons learned from it to the new facility.

V. Advantages of Implementing this Program

There are several benefits to the County of investing in this program and opening the North County Correctional Facility for female inmates:

First and foremost, it alleviates overcrowding at the Women’s Correctional Center. The Grand Jury’s July 2007 report findings stated several effects of overcrowding at WCC including, “Additional stress on staff and inmates puts both at risk.”

Second, it offers an opportunity to start a pilot re-entry program now, modeled on an evidenced based, gender-responsive approach that staff can implement, evaluate, and learn from, as planning for the new permanent facility progresses. It also offers our currently incarcerated women inmates more opportunities to begin to improve their lives, hopefully reducing future recidivism.

It also provides the opportunity to operate and evaluate two different, intensive re-entry programs for women in-custody: The cognitive- based Choices Program already in operation at the Women’s Correctional Center, and an evidenced based gender-specific program previously mentioned in this report, which research has found effective for female offenders.

Finally, there is space – up to ten beds – that could be added to the North County Correctional Facility for a Women’s Work Furlough that could operate alongside the 40 bed gender responsive program. Currently, we have a Men’s Work Furlough Program, where inmates share housing with men incarcerated in the Minimum Security Transition Facility. A work furlough program, under the Courts sentencing, allows inmates to keep their jobs and thereby continue to provide for their families. They are allowed to go to work and return to custody evenings and weekends, serving out their sentence. This program could be established and opened, in partnership with the Courts, after the gender-responsive re-entry program is implemented.

This program aligns with the County Shared Vision 2010, Ensure Public Safety for All – help vulnerable people achieve a better quality of life; and Provide Equal Access to Educational Opportunity – residents have many educational and training opportunities beyond high school.



The fiscal impact for FY 2007-2008 is $609,380, which is the required one-time appropriation to update the facility and prepare for inmate housing and programming services. There are currently no existing budgeted funds or offsets available to apply towards these costs.

The net fiscal impact for FY 2008-09 is approximately $2.179,550, reflecting the full annual, ongoing, operational costs for providing re-entry program services at the North County Correctional Facility. This annual cost includes adding nine positions: four Deputy Sheriffs, four Correctional Officers and one Social Worker II ($1.75M), operational costs including facility lease and food services and correctional health services to support up to 40 inmates ( $465,000); and, funds to contract with a community based organization to provide a gender responsive program (estimated at $142,000 annually.) The net operating cost above, also reflects allocation of $166,980 in existing budget or non-general fund sources, lowering total costs by 7%.

The facility would expect to operate for five to- six years, until the new facility for the Maple Street Correctional Facilities Replacement Project is completed.