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San Mateo County Approves Funding for New Jail

San Mateo County is one step closer to breaking ground on a new jail, over the objections of some residents and activist groups. On Tuesday supervisors approved more than $16 million of contracts to design and build the facility. Supporters say the replacement jail will help at a time when overcrowded state prisons are sending low-level inmates to county lockups. Critics say San Mateo County cannot afford it and should look into ways to push down the jail population, before building a new jail.

"The Replacement Jail will be a state of the art correctional facility designed not to just house inmates, but to also prepare them for re-entry into society once they have completed their sentences," said Sheriff Greg Munks in a statement. "Additionally, we will be able to replace our outdated Women’s Correctional Center and relieve the chronic overcrowding that has plagued our Maguire Correctional Facility for years.”

Groups including Californians United for a Responsible Budget, or CURB, say there is too much spending on prisons and not enough on other core needs like education, healthcare and infrastructure.

"Every time we choose to spend money on jails or prisons, we are choosing to cut money from those other programs, especially in this time of budget crisis," says Isaac Szmonko of the nonprofit group Critical Resistance.

The jail will stand at the corner of Maple and Blomquist streets in Redwood City, built at a total cost of roughly $155 million. It should be open by 2015.

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