• History of the Santa Rita Jail
The original Santa Rita jail was used as a replacement for the County Prison Farm that used to be next to Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro. It was opened in 1947 and took up about 1000 acres on the former World War II military base, Camp Schumacher.
This original site included a Navy Brig, which was converted into a maximum security unit that was known as Greystone. A further eight barracks were converted into medium and minimum security facilities that became known as the Compound.
There was also another barracks for women inmates.
• The new Santa Rita jail
It was decided that the old jail was overcrowded, and the changing demographics were making it difficult and expensive to operate safely and securely, so in 1983, the design and development of the new jail began.
It cost $172 million to construct, but on September 1, 1989, the order was given by Sheriff Charles C. Plummer to open the new jail, and the inmates were transferred.
There is room for about 4000 prisoners in the new Santa Rita jail, and it has been dubbed a 'mega-jail'. It is the third largest in California and the fifth largest in the United States.
The jail has also been recognized as being one of the most technically pioneering jails in the world and has a robotic system that quickens the process of delivering food, laundry and supplies.