Prisoner Flushing A $700,000 Problem For California County


Bright orange jail uniforms, sheets, and other items from San Mateo County, Ca.’s main lockup are going down the toilet by the hundreds, damaging a pumping station and threatening the Redwood City sewage system, says a waste management agency quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. The agency has billed the county $700,000 for increased maintenance and to fix damage it says has been caused by inmates flushing clothes, linen, plastic bags, and toothbrushes regularly. “We have literally hundreds of garments — probably thousands of garments — that have ‘San Mateo County Jail, Maguire Facility’ on them,” said Dan Child of the South Bayside Systems Authority. “It’s approximately a $30,000-a-month problem right now.”

County officials acknowledge there is a problem, but some question the accuracy of the $700,000 bill and whether all the material gumming up the works is coming from the jail. The sheriff’s office, which runs the jail, and the county Department of Public Works are looking at options to fix the problem, including stepped-up measures to keep track of jail clothing, increased cell searches for extra garments, and an automated cleaning system for the protective grates.


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