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Hall of Justice, San Francisco's oldest working jail

San Francisco Sherriff's Department / cropped and resized

From our Audiograph series:

San Francisco’s oldest working jail is located on the top floor of the city’s Hall of Justice. That jail is seismically unsafe, and it’s got a bad reputation — rats wandering behind the walls, peeling old paint, and even frequent raw sewage floods

SHERIFF VICKI HENNESSY: I'm the Sheriff. I'm supposed to keep people safe. I'm supposed to run a humane jail that's going to ensure people's constitutional rights . . . it's very difficult to do, and it's a challenge for us to do that every day at that jail.

But in 2015, the City’s Board of Supervisors voted against funding a replacement jail, forcing the sheriff to reject $80 million in state cash that would have gone towards building a better jail. Instead, activists and city officials have been working towards reducing the jail population. But tearing down the cycle of mass incarceration isn’t happening overnight. In the meantime, the inmates already in the system still need a decent place to live.

Since this story first aired in June 2017, 150 inmates are suing the county over the frequent raw sewage floods.

Audiograph is a radio project mapping the Bay Area’s sonic signature. Audiograph tells the story of where you live and the people who live there with you.