Walter Mencken 9:01 a.m., April 29
ACLU Blasts San Diego Jail Spending
Statewide, counties are amid making decisions on jail realignment implementation, which predominantly focus on solving over crowding in county jails.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today released a 100-page report providing county-by-county profiles of the spending priorities established in the 25 counties that have already received nearly $400 million from the state, a figure slated to grow to more than $1 billion annually in the next fiscal year
San Diego County has been allocated $25.1 million, which is 7.08% percent of the statewide total, making San Diego the third highest recipient of funds, with San Bernardino County receiving 7.28% and Los Angeles County getting the biggest piece of the fund pie with 31.77%.
The report finds that most counties allocate less funding to crime-prevention programs such as mental health services and drug treatment, and the most funding towards jail expansion.
For fiscal year, 2011-2012, San Diego allocated $5 million (20%) of its funding to the probation department, compared to $200,000 provided to the sheriff’s department so it can take the first steps toward expanding the East Mesa Detention Facility by 400 to 500 beds.
However, San Diego was previously awarded $100 million for Phase I funding of its new jail, for which construction begins November 2012, and completion is slated for November 2015. The new construction will replace the existing women’s detention facility in Santee, constructing 1,270 beds for a net gain of 842 beds. The total project costs are estimated at $268 million.
“Simply building new jails or re-opening unused jail space treats the symptom but not the underlying disease,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Senior Policy Advocate of the Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Project of the ACLU of California and co-author of the report.
“It’s time to confront the fact that in California, over-incarceration is itself a disease, and the way to end it is to expand the use of mental health services, drug treatment and job training, and to reserve prison and jail for responding to serious crimes.”
The report which thoroughly examines alternatives, also reveals that 71 percent of the 71,000 Californians held in county jails on any given day are awaiting their day in court; most of whom do not pose a risk to public safety but are stuck behind bars because they simply cannot afford bail.