San Francisco reopens closed jail annex as inmate population surges
In October 2022, there was a daily average of 835 total people in jail; it has increased 32% this year
By Madilynne Medina
SFGate, San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco law enforcement has arrested so many people that a previously closed jail building is reopening because there isn’t enough space for the soaring inmate population, officials said.
The San Francisco County Sheriff’s Office opened a formerly nonoperational annex at County Jail #3, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. The jail is the largest in San Francisco County. Though it is located in San Bruno, it’s under the authority of the city and county of San Francisco.
The annex, which is adjacent to the county jail and connected by a walkway, opened Friday, San Francisco County Sheriff Paul Miyamoto told SFGATE. He said the facility has “dormitory-style” housing for up to 62 people, but officials will limit capacity at 50 people for each block.
In October 2022, there was a daily average of 835 total people in jail. It has increased 32% this year: As of Friday’s news release, the sheriff’s office said there are 1,105 incarcerated people in San Francisco County jails.
Miyamoto said the sheriff’s office planned to open the annex in the event that the jail population count increased. He said the original maximum population number was 1,044, but officials were able to manage up to 1,070 inmates before opening the additional facility.
“We originally thought and projected that it was going to happen in September,” Miyamoto said. “But we’ve been able to hold out until now and until Friday.”
The number of people incarcerated in San Francisco County has increased because more people are being arrested and more court cases are being held, Miyamoto said in a statement. The jail population is determined by calculating the number of “arrests, releases, and convictions,” the sheriff’s office said.
Miyamoto said the number of arrests may be “deceiving” though, because not all people who are arrested go to jail; some are cited and released. He said law enforcement also looks at the number of people booked into jail when evaluating the jail population. This year, there has been a 21% increase in people booked into jail, Miyamoto said.
“I think part of it has to do with current public safety efforts, especially to address the fentanyl issue and disrupt drug sales and drug use from about May until now,” Miyamoto said. “We’ve seen a slight, steady climb.”
The increased number of people in jail is also because more people are being arrested on existing warrants, Miyamoto said.
The San Bruno facility replaced the original jail that closed in 2006. The current facility is the “largest and most modern jail” in the county, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department history research project says.
The annex has six sections of cells and two are ready for inmates as of Friday, the sheriff’s office said.
The need for additional jail spaces comes after the closure of the Bryant Street jail, which closed in September 2020 and is now an administrative office. The jail used to be able to hold up to 402 people on the 7th floor, the sheriff’s office said in the news release.
As the new annex opens, the sheriff’s department is also understaffed, the sheriff said. Miyamoto said the department is filling 75 positions. He said the department is required to have 920 deputies but only has 770 currently on staff.
He said it was a difficult decision to open the annex, as the sheriff’s office doesn’t prefer to have a large jail population.
“We’ll be prepared to either close it down or open up additional space if the need arises,” he said.
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