San Francisco

San Francisco Has Few Options for Housing Inmates After Closing Hall of Justice Jail

San Francisco would be left with few options to relocate inmates housed at the Hall of Justice's seventh-floor jail once the building closes in 2021, city officials concluded at a hearing Friday.

The hearing at the supervisors' Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting about closing the jail, also known as County Jail 4, comes just a day after Mayor London Breed unveiled a plan to relocate several city offices, courtrooms, and inmates from the Hall of Justice's 850 Bryant St. location to a new consolidated "Justice Campus" within the next two years.

The proposed facility would focus on services and the rehabilitation and treatment of inmates, including a mix of mental health beds, substance abuse treatment beds, reentry transitional housing for people exiting the criminal justice system, and jail beds. The new site would also house the Superior Court, the Sheriff's Department, Adult Probation, the Public Defender's Office and the District Attorney's Office.

Organizers with the No New Jail Coalition, however, are urging supervisors to close the jail by July 2020 and avoid building a new facility by reducing the jail's population and releasing people pretrial.

"Putting someone in jail is the worst thing you can do for the individual and the community," organizer Olivia Park said during a rally outside of City Hall ahead of the hearing.

Regarding Breed's plan to create a new campus, Park said, "That's not really reform, that's putting a Band-Aid on things."

During the hearing, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy said, "I think it is important to understand how we're going to close County Jail 4. I still don't understand how we're going to do it in terms of getting it closed without having some place to put people."

Hennessy advocated creating a new facility at the proposed justice campus. The only other options would be to move inmates to the city's San Bruno Jail, which needs renovations that wouldn't be finished until 2024, or possibly moving them to either the shuttered Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland or the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

"County Jail 4 is not a jail that should still be open. I feel like a failure in my administration that we haven't been able to get beyond this and find a way to have a place for people who don't have to stay in the conditions that they don't have to stay in jail for," she said. "We don't have a lot of options."

"I'm concerned about setting a closure date for 2021," Supervisor Matt Haney said. "I'm also concerned about the lack of planning. I was hoping we could get more details about what exactly is going to happen now and what are the immediate next steps from the city in collaboration with the sheriff and we don't have the answers yet and it seems that the sheriff doesn't have those answers yet and that's concerning."

The Hall of Justice, built in 1958, is not up to current seismic codes, and has faced numerous recent problems, including sewage leaks and rodent infestations.

A report released Thursday by the city's Budget and Legislative Analyst found that as of July 31, 2019, County Jail 4 held a total of 313 inmates.

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