Supes reject new jail in sign of changing City Hall politics

by 48hills – excerpt

Mayor’s plan goes down 11-0 as policy direction shifts to the board

DECEMBER 16, 2015 – In a remarkable move that reflects both changes on the Board of Supervisors and a different political climate as we head into 2016, the supes Tuesday unanimously rejected plans for a new city jail.

Mayor Ed Lee and the incoming sheriff he supported, Vicky Hennessy, both strongly backed the idea of building a $215 million facility to house more than 300 inmates on a piece of land near the Hall of Justice.

That 1958 building is seismically unsafe and falling apart, and needs to be torn down.

But the supes decided that the city would do better to spend that kind of money on mental health services, education, and drug treatment.

The message that the vote sends is profound: A major California city, given the option of taking $80 million in state money for a jail, instead said that alternatives to incarceration and the prison-industrial complex are better for the taxpayers and for public safety.

The vote wasn’t everything that jail foes had wanted: Sup. David Campos, among others, had urged that the board outright reject the $80 million grant the state had offered for the facility.

Instead, in a deal sponsored by Sups. Jane Kim and London Breed, the board agreed to table that item – potentially allowing it to come back at a future date, if the state Legislature decides that the city can spend the grant on something other than a jail…

There are good deals and bad deals, and we may see some of both, but this week it became clear that the center of policy discussion for 2016 won’t be the Mayor’s Office. It will be the Board of Supervisors… (more)

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