The raw sewage, COVID-19 hotbed known as San Francisco County Jail No. 4 will close permanently on Labor Day weekend, ending an injustice at the Hall of Justice.
The most joyless place in San Francisco is the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant Street, and the most joyless place in that concrete compound is its 60-year-old, seventh-floor facility that houses up to 400 guests, better known as County Jail No. 4. Famed for its crumbling, seismically unsafe build and raw sewage overflows (for which the city had to pay a $2.1 million settlement), County Jail No. 4 was already slated to close in 2021 even before inmates started testing positive for coronavirus. But the timeline has been moved up, as the Chronicle reports County Jail No. 4 will close on September 5, with all inmates being removed on Labor Day weekend.
Logistically, it’s not a huge move. Per the Chron, 78 inmates will merely be moved around the corner to County Jail No. 2 at 425 7th Street — attached to the rear of the Hall of Justice — or County Jail No. 5 in San Bruno. But in terms of safety and sanitation, the move will be a big deal for any worker, visitor, or incarcerated person who ever has to set foot in the facility.
County Jail #4, the dangerous, dilapidated, seismically unfit jail at 850 Bryant will close effective Sept 5.— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) August 25, 2020
All incarcerated people will be moved out no later than July 2021.
Thank you to the #NoNewJail coalition and @SandraLeeFewer @LondonBreed @chesaboudin @ManoRajuPD
“That hallway, the concrete, the payphones, the few benches where we had to sit on the floors to wait ... that experience still haunts me,” Mayor London Breed told the Chronicle. “I wouldn’t want to see my worst enemy in that place. We’re closing the door on the past and mass incarceration at its absolute worst.”
As the Examiner explains, Breed herself ordered the joint closed by July 2021, but Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer got the board to pass a measure in May moving that up to November 1, what with the COVID-19 concerns and all. Sheriff Paul Miyamoto one-upped them all, expediting the process to barely ten days from now.
“When I became sheriff, I committed to closing that facility,” Miyamoto told the Chronicle. “It’s outlived its usefulness, and being seismically unsafe, it was not just putting incarcerated people in danger, but our staff, deputies, contractors and all community members who came to visit.”
The entire Hall of Justice is slated for demolition and replacement in the coming years, as the entire complex is seismically unsafe — and the DA's Office and Medical Examiner, which originally lived there, have already been relocated. A new facility that will house both, along the Superior Court, may or may not get built by the end of this decade, depending on how the city budget shakes out.
A dreadful as SF County Jail is, we cannot discuss the location without remembering the Yelp review page for SF County Jail. There are plenty of hilarious and new faux-hospitality reviews since SFist last covered the page, and most are for County Jails No. 1 and 2, which are around the corner in a separate building. But we’ll remember County Jail No. 4 for the review embedded above which calls out the “Comfortable living environment, ‘ergonomic’ steel bunk bed with paper-thin, lightweight mattress,” “gently-used thread-bare ‘blanket' and “walls come adorned with 'artwork' from many previous tenants.”
Image: Kevin Y. via Yelp