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San Diego County Digest

San Diego

March 19, 1987

A San Diego City Council committee gave tentative approval Wednesday for City Manager John Lockwood to negotiate with county officials to add temporary beds at the Las Colinas women's jail in Santee.

Lockwood's proposal, which he stressed was a "Band-Aid approach" to critical jail overcrowding, calls for the city to pay $122,500 to rent temporary barracks for an additional 192 female prisoners at Las Colinas, a move that would cost the county $503,000 a year for additional staffing. Another alternative would have the council pay $136,500 for 320 beds, requiring the county to pay $806,339 a year for staffing.

Lockwood unveiled his plan several weeks ago in a town hall meeting where angry Mid-City residents complained about prostitution along El Cajon Boulevard. Police say they are handicapped in battling prostitution because jail overcrowding immediately returns the prostitutes, who are charged with misdemeanors, to the streets.

Council members Wednesday voted unanimously to have Lockwood approach county officials with the proposal, and they urged him to negotiate for the greater number of beds. Lockwood said the temporary barracks would be used for three years--long enough to fill the gap before more permanent jails are built.

Councilman William Jones, who complained bitterly about the crime problem in his district, said he also wants the city to explore ways to lock up more male criminals.

"I think it's somewhat hilarious that we're sitting here today talking about adding space for prostitutes . . . when there are others to be locked up," Jones said.

He also urged his colleagues to reconsider the council's five-year plan to hire additional police officers to attain the ratio of 2 per 1,000 San Diegans. He raised the possibility of spending the money instead to build new jails. In the last fiscal year, the city paid $7 million for 140 additional officers.

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