Briefs: Grand jury tackles jail overcrowding | August 22, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - August 22, 2012

Briefs: Grand jury tackles jail overcrowding

Could electronic monitoring help solve San Mateo County's struggle with overcrowded jails? The grand jury thinks it's worth consideration.

The jury's report, released in July, stopped short of recommending electronic monitoring for pre-trial detainees, but suggested that the sheriff's office carry out a feasibility study. According to the report, from 2002 to 2007 approximately 50 percent of the male jail population at the Maguire facility consisted of people awaiting trial. That climbed to 76 percent by 2011. With jail capacity outstripped by 120 to 147 percent for the past 10 years, overcrowding was already an issue before the state's "public safety realignment" program began shipping offenders back to county jails from state prisons. The change is expected to add 300 to 400 jail inmates a day to San Mateo County.

The grand jury report estimated that switching to electronic monitoring, where the detainees would be released from custody but tracked, would save about $100 per day per person.

The sheriff's office currently uses electronic monitoring as an alternative to incarceration for low-level convicted offenders with stable living situations. Staff told the grand jury the office opposes monitoring for those awaiting trial because of safety concerns and the investment it would take to expand the program.

Go to to review the report.

SLAC hones

laser beam

A slice of diamond crystal has transformed an x-ray laser beam from a hatchet to a scalpel, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory researchers announced Aug 12.

In a process called "self-seeding," the crystal filters the x-ray laser beam's wavelengths into a single color without losing intensity, giving researchers greater control of matter at the atomic level and delivering sharper images, the laboratory said in a press release. According to SLAC, the team that implemented together 15 years of self-seeding theory into a included collaborators from the Technical Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials in Troitsk, Russia, which supplied the diamond filter, and Argonne National Laboratory, which designed the vacuum chamber to house it and the precision motion controls to adjust it. The research was supported by the Department of Energy.


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