San Francisco shelling out big bucks for inmates

San Francisco is paying big money to keep their county jail from overcrowding by offering diversion programs that provide alternatives to serving time.

According to the California Board of State and Community Corrections, it costs $173 daily to house an inmate in San Francisco. However, this price is only half of what Sacramento County pays and about the same as San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

But Chief Deputy Kathy Gorwood of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department says those numbers seem to be a little inflated. According to the department, which oversees the County Jail system, their estimates run around $135 to house an inmate on a daily basis.

Gorwood believes the higher number may have come from salaries and benefits from workers. She told the SF Examiner┬áthe average population of inmates in San Francisco’s jail over the past 18 months has been around 1,524.

While the San Francisco jail system has approximately 1,988 beds available, Gorwood says this is “a very misleading number” considering some inmates can be assigned their own room, therefore decreasing the amount of beds available since there are bunk beds in each cell.

San Francisco is now working on keeping almost 900 charged inmates on supervised release while they wait for a trial date, who would otherwise be taking up space. Gorwood says that 1,060 criminals are on diversion programs. Many of these programs offer drug rehabilitation and education opportunities.