Thursday, October 07, 2010

Sheriff's Candidate, Parkinson, and Endorser, Supervisor Hill, Appear to be on Opposite Pages

TO: Ian Parkinson, Candidate for SLO County Sheriff
DATE: 10/7/10

Dear Mr. Parkinson,

I'm researching a story, and I just have a quick question.

Please allow me to set it up:

On your web site, one of your key endorsements is from Supervisor Adam Hill.

"'I am pleased to join with my colleague Frank Mecham in endorsing Ian Parkinson to be our next Sheriff," stated Supervisor Adam Hill.'"

Additionally, according to a Tribune article concerning a recent Sheriff's debate between you and Joe Cortez, it reads:

"Their plans for addressing overcrowding in the woman’s jail: Cortez said alternatives, such as work release and home detention programs, need to be studied. He also suggested county officials work with Santa Barbara on helping expand its proposed new jail to house some of San Luis Obispo County’s inmates. Parkinson said plans for the jail can’t be put off, but inmates should also be exposed to more job skills."

Assuming the Trib's report is accurate (and, yes, I realize that's a RISKY assumption), then I'm a little confused here.

The reason is, if you happened to listen to the Board of Supervisors meeting on 9/21/10, when the Board was discussing the proposed $35 million women's jail expansion, Supervisor Hill seemed very critical of that project, and even said that it appeared to add to an "empire of incarceration" (his words).

So, I guess what I'm doing with this e-mail is giving you a chance to clarify your stance on the women's jail expansion.

Because, if you take that quote from the Trib, "Parkinson said plans for the jail can’t be put off," and compare it with Supervisor Hill's quote of "empire of incarceration," it looks like one of your main endorsements, Supervisor Hill, and you are on completely opposite ends on the $35 million women's jail issue.

So, do you really feel that the $35 million women's jail "can’t be put off," or do you agree with Supervisor Hill, that the project needs revision, and that's why he voted to "put it off" until next February?

Finally, I recently published a piece on my blog, SewerWatch, at this link:

... that shows that a new State law (SB 959) allows for counties to enact a mandatory home detention program to ease overcrowding in county jails.

In that piece, I show how SLO County is now in the minority of California counties to NOT enact a SB 959 style program.

I also show in my piece how, according to SLO County Sheriff's department numbers, the current women's facility is overcrowded by 30 inmates, on average.

Then I crunched the numbers:

To professionally monitor a "low risk" woman inmate from home costs the county somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 per year, according to official figures.

However, the cost to SLO County, if Supervisors were to go ahead with the current women's jail plans, would be over $75,000/year, per over-the-limit inmate.

In other words, if County Supervisors were to simple adopt a SB 959 style program, and place those 30 (on average) "low risk" women inmates on a mandatory home detention program, instead of building a $35 million expansion, with an additional cost to county taxpayers of nearly $2 million a year to staff and operate the facility, the county would end up saving tens of millions of dollars.

Incidentally, SB 959 was supported by the California State Sheriff's Association.

So, here are my questions:

Do you really disagree with one of your main endorsements -- Supervisor Hill -- on the $35 million (plus nearly $2 million/year to operate) women's jail expansion, or did the Trib get that wrong?


What are your thoughts on SB 959?

Do you support SLO County adopting a mandatory home detention program that would instantly save the County tens of millions of dollars, and immediately end the illegal overcrowding at the current facility, or do you favor spending up to $118,000 per year (when County AND State funds are included), to incarcerate 30 extra "low risk" women inmates at the proposed jail expansion?

Thank you for your time,

P.S. I've published this e-mail on my blog:


[40 weeks down... 12 to go.]


  • I don't know if Parkinson is going to bother to reply Ron.
    Seems his plate just got overflowing.
    Cal Coast News just brought in a very interesting article. Seems the Sheriff wanna be is a little unclear on ethics and legal business practices.
    But heck, It's Slo town!
    Voting hasn't been a strong-point there, ever

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 7:04 PM, October 07, 2010  

  • MG writes:

    "I don't know if Parkinson is going to bother to reply Ron."

    That's fine with me, and, besides, I'm soooo used to it ; -)

    If he wants SLO County voters to think that he's willing to spend $118,000/year (four times the national average) per over-the-limit inmate, for 30, on average, "low risk" women inmates, just to show that he's "tough on crime," when there are MUCH cheaper, and MUCH better alternatives, hey, that's entirely up to him.

    One thing's for sure, one of his key endorsements, Supervisor Hill, strongly disagrees with him on that subject.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:19 AM, October 08, 2010  

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