San Francisco grand jury
releases report on state of City jails
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
June 26, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - San Francisco jails are rife with
problems, including inmate overcrowding, staffing shortages, decrepit
facilities and high recidivism rates, according to a report released
today by the 2005-2006 San Francisco civil grand jury.
The report, titled "San Francisco Jails: An Investigative
Visit," is based on visits of the jail facilities, interviews
with jail staff and background research conducted by civil grand
In the report, the grand jury recommended that the city and county
of San Francisco promptly address problems with the physical facilities
-- such as poor air circulation and overcrowding -- in jails in
the Hall of Justice. It was also suggested that the cooling system
in the Hall of Justice jails be replaced before the end of 2006,
according to Stephen Halpern, the grand jury foreperson.
The grand jury cited in its report that money had been allocated
for the cooling system project but the renovations have not yet
According to the grand jury report, the rate of repeat offending
by individuals brought to San Francisco county jails is also a
More than 40 percent of prisoners in jails in the county are
repeat offenders, the grand jury reported.
The county could begin to address the problem of recidivism by
doing more to connect released prisoners with post-release rehabilitation
programs and services. The grand jury recommended creating a four-year
pilot program, at a cost of $300,000 per year, to connect released
prisoners with existing rehabilitation programs.
The civil grand jury's report praised the professionalism and
training of the members of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department,
but cautioned that staffing shortages in the department are proving
costly and could become dangerous.
Recent race riots at county jails in Los Angeles were cited as
an example of the worst-case scenario of what could happen if
staffing shortages are not addressed. A recruitment plan to enlist
more deputies was suggested in the report.
The use of mandatory overtime to address staffing shortages at
the jails is "detrimental to the safety of both (sheriff's)
departmental staff and prisoners in custody," according to
the grand jury.
A copy of the civil grand jury's report can be found at:
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