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San Mateo County Jail

1590 Maple Street
Redwood City, CA 94063-2720
Phone: (650) 363-4310

Interview with Larry, Tawnie and Henry

JM: How long was your sentencing for?
Larry: Since all of my issues stemmed from me using drugs I took a deal to go to a program and be on formal probation. I was scared and there was no testimony against me. My name was on the deed of the house and my drivers license had the address on it. But since I had kicked my brothers door in while in a heated argument they charged me with burglary and I told the police what I had done so the public defender told me that they were gonna prosecute me on my own testimony and give me a sentence of 6 years in prison. Imagine that.
Tawnie: I was granted "time served" after 232 actual days served.
Henry: i dont remember. i believe it was a year. when i finished that time, i was released, on 5 year formal probation.every little infraction etc while on probation put me back in the jail for 6 months per violation.I accumulated around 2.5 - 3 years of wasted time in that disgusting place.

JM: Did you spend time in a holding cell after your sentencing? If so, what was that like? If you didn't where did they they take you instead?
Larry: I was constantly in holding cells through arraignment. Every time I went to court I would talk to a public defender who didnt seem to care anything about me being innocent or guilty as long as I took the deal.
Tawnie: I was to be released after receiving time served, but first, I had to go back to the jail, and wait until 6pm to be transported from the women's jail to MacGuire (the main jail) where I was actually released around midnight, after the processing. It was a long time of sitting and waiting, but I was happy to be getting out.
Henry: yes, i spent plenty of time in a few holding cells. we would go to a holding cell. packed full of angry, stinky, on edge prisoners etc.. forced to breathe the same air as sick people and in a musty room with a 20 person capacity, but 50 people are inside. its dirty. its tiring. and police dont give a SH*T about you when your there.they laugh at you, talk crap to you and prove themselves to be worse than some of the people in fact there were a few rooms that they divided people up into. then they would go around and call out names to each room for those picked to head off to court. after court, same routine before heading back into your cell.

Have you ever driven by San Mateo County Jail and wondered what life is like behind those locked doors? Maybe you or someone you love is facing some time in this facility. Going to jail can be intimidating, especially if you have no idea what to expect.

We have interviewed former inmates of San Mateo County, and they have shared their inside knowledge about what life is like inside this jail. You can access these interviews by clicking on the links to the left. Take a few minutes to read their stories and find out what really happens behind bars in the San Mateo County Jail.

San Mateo County provides inmates with three meals per day. Breakfast is served at 6am, lunch at 11am and dinner at 4:30pm. A standard breakfast is cereal, milk, and a piece of fruit. Lunch is usually four pieces of bread with 2 slices of bologna, salami or turkey, packets of mustard and mayo, 4-5 carrot sticks, sunflower seeds and a kool-aid type drink.

Dinner is usually something hot like rice and beans with mystery meat. Friday nights the jail serves an inmate favorite, chicken drumstick with mashed potatoes and chocolate pudding. Inmates who have money on their books can buy food off the jail commissary to supplement the food the jail supplies.

Passing the Time
One of the biggest challenges of serving time is finding ways to stay busy and avoiding boredom. San Mateo provides some facilities to help with these problems. Each dorm has one television. AA and NA meetings are held five times per week. Religious services are offered twice a week. There are books available on bookcases in the dorm. Inmates with money on their books can purchase playing cards from commissary.

Getting Out Early
To deal with problems of overcrowding, many jails allow inmates to be released before their sentenced release date. In San Mateo County, you get one extra day credited for every two days served. So if you are sentenced to one year (12 months), you only serve 8 months. To get this time off, you need to avoid involvement with any physical fights. This is the number one reason people are disqualified from getting out early.

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