SAN FRANCISCO—In an effort to prepare for disasters from potential California earthquakes, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has been in the process of deliberating when to move inmates out of the San Francisco’s Hall of Justice, built in 1958. The city’s Hall of Justice holds two county jail structures, which will be closed because the facility has been deemed an earthquake hazard.
In a recent statement made by Department of Public Works Architect, Charles Higueras, Higueras stated that “The Hall of Justice did not meet seismic safety or modern day work requirements and renovating was out of the question, as it would have put the cost at an exorbitant $1 billion.”
This decision has been a controversial debate over whether the construction of a new jail in San Francisco is necessary. The main argument claims that building a new jail would be a costly and a unnecessary city expense, as there is currently an empty jail in the city of San Bruno. San Francisco officials are stating that city transportation to and from San Bruno would be costly and inefficient.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, a new facility would cost $240 million to construct, and hold 640 beds. The Board of Supervisors assembled a report stating that the jail would be adjacent to the Hall of Justice and include a tunnel that connects the buildings. The current jail facility in the Hall of Justice holds 600 inmates. The San Bruno jail is capable of housing up to 768 inmates.
Construction of the new jail would begin in January 2017 and is expected to be completed by January 2020. City officials are advocating the impracticality of having no jail within city limits, while opponents are proposing that potential jail funding be allocated to mental health and drug treatment programs.