Stop the New Jail

by Raphael  Sperry, Instructor (CEE 136: Green Architecture)

Did you know that San Mateo County is planning to build a new jail? Stanford has a significant portion of its campus in San Mateo County, so what the county government does with local revenue is a significant issue. But this is also a basic issue of criminal justice and fairness that effects our neighbors, from East Palo Alto up to the San Francisco line. By investing tens of millions of dollars in the jail, San Mateo County is turning its back on crime prevention and rehabilitative services in the community… there won’t be enough money to fund everything.

In my class, I teach how to minimize the environmental impacts of buildings. I’ve also been involved with organizing other architects to oppose the construction of jails and prisons for almost ten years. This is an interesting collision of those issues for me, since San Mateo is proposing to build one of the first LEED-certified jails in the country. My short take on that is: if you build the jail, you might reduce emissions 30% from a typical building baseline, but if you don’t build it at all, you avoid 100% of the emissions – and that’s without taking the community impact into account. If you’d like to learn more about this issue, please come to the workshop below.

You are invited to attend a
Community Townhall Meeting to Stop the New Jail

Stop the $150 million new Jail in San Mateo County
Reduce the Jail Population
Reinvest in programs that build strong and healthy communities

Saturday, August 25 – 1-4pm

Free At Last meeting house
1796 Bay Road
East Palo Alto, CA 94303

Come to a community meeting to learn about the ongoing fight against the proposed jail expansion in San Mateo County. While San Mateo County slashes education, healthcare and other community services, it wants to spend $150 million to open new jail cells that will primarily be filled with people of color from poor and working class communities.

The event will include performances, testimony from former prisoners and family members, and local speakers sharing strategies on how to fight the jail and stop cuts to the programs that matter most. Join with neighbors and local community organizations to stop the jail!

BBQ lunch will be served. Childcare will be available.  The space is wheelchair accessible.

Sponsored by Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB).  CURB is a statewide alliance of over 50 organizations working to curb prison spending by reducing the number of people in prison and the number of prisons in California.

For more information: 510-435-1176 – –

Raphael Sperry teaches the Green Architecture class in CEE; he is a consulting architect on green buildings and a national board member of Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility, where he directs the Alternatives to Incarceration Campaign (, and the ADPSR representative to the CURB coalition, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (

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