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Santa Clara County to consider new jail project

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — On Tuesday, Santa Clara County leaders will discuss moving forward with the creation of a new County Jail.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on staff recommendations to move forward with a new 500 maximum bed building that would replace the old Main Jail South, that was demolished last year.

Last November, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to continue talks on building a new mental health facility while acknowledging several challenges in moving forward with the plan.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisor Susan Ellenberg penned a letter asking for a deferral to Jan 11. — citing the report “incomplete” and failing to include information the board requested regarding alternatives to incinerating mentally ill individuals.

“The recommendations on page 30 [of the report] on Behavioral Health Issues are non-specific and do not provide clear next steps, which is highly concerning given that this was a major focus of the
community engagement sessions and Board direction,” said Ellenberg in the letter.

“Finally, the inclusion of the recommendation to construct a maximum-security jail had never
been requested by any Supervisor in any meeting, motion, or referral prior,” Ellenberg added.

“There is very little information explaining the proposed maximum-security jail, suggesting a conflation of people who are classified as maximum security with those who have serious mental illnesses.”

The demolishing site of the old Santa Clara County Main Jail South.

The new pitch to resume a new jail project has ignited activists in demanding the Board of Supervisors vote no on the proposed $390 million jail and relocating the project funds towards mental health services for those incarcerated.

The Student Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI) along with community activists will be marching from Raymond Bernal Jr. Memorial Park and hold a rally at the County Office ahead of the vote.

“In light of the global mass-uprisings surrounding the killing of George Floyd, and the Black Lives Matter movement, the spending of $390 million on a new jail is a slap in the face to the Black and Brown community in Silicon Valley,” read a press release by SAMI.

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