Aug 18

New San Luis Obispo County Jail – World War II week by week

The population of the county was exploding with war related construction and staffing at bases. On August 11, 1942 the Telegram-Tribune wrote about the new jail atop what we now call the old courthouse on Osos street. The previous jail had been in the basement of the 1873 era courthouse demolished by Alex Madonna.

Prisoners of County
Moved to New Quarters

It was “premiere night” Monday for 34 county prisoners, including the work gang, who were moved from the old quarters in the Hall of Records to the new county jail atop the county courthouse.
Beginning early Monday morning Sheriff Murray Hathway and his deputies began the task of transferring office equipment that has been crowded into the hall of Records since 1940 when the old jail in the basement of the old courthouse was torn down, into the new and spacious quarters.
“The new setup will be much more efficient,” Sheriff Hathway stated, “and will eliminate the fire hazard that hung over us constantly in the old building.”

Has Switchboard

Another advantageous feature is the switchboard with five trunk lines, which will eliminate the past difficulty of having the lines to he sheriff’s office tied up in case of emergency.
The new jail space covers the entire top floor of the center unit of the courthouse.
Included are the sheriff’s private offices; an office for the civil department; a darkroom and a room for taking identification pictures and two offices for the identification department, besides the matron’s bedroom and a small kitchen, from which food brought from the outside may be served to a limited number of prisoners.
There is a private rear night entrance for bringing prisoners to the jail which can be automatically unlocked upstairs when the password is given by a deputy brining in a prisoner. During the daytime the elevator will be used from the ground floor.

Booking Office

Next to the jail proper is the booking office where a card is made out for each prisoner, listing the name address, age, height, weight, cause of arrest, by whom, etc. The prisoner’s belongings are listed, he signs that list and they are placed in a small locker.
There is a small adjacent room where a prisoner may be questioned if necessary, or where several prisoners may be placed while booking is done one at a time.
Next to the booking office is the main office where complaints will be filed. Here also is the teletype and radio room.

Contains 92 Beds

The jail proper contains 92 beds with room for an additional 30 prisoners in case of emergency. There are 72 beds in the two main sections of the jail and four beds in the two solitary confinements cells.
Eight beds are contained in the juvenile block and eight in the woman’s ward. Each is equipped with sanitary facilities and a small day room.
The two bull pens, one at the front of each of the two main cell blocks which are separated from the juvenile and woman’s tanks, are equipped with tables for eating, shower toilet and washstand facilities. There is sufficient room in each bull pen to take care of 36 men wanting room to stretch their legs.
Visitors may talk to a prisoner through a “filter” slit and see through a small pane of glass but there is no opening through which a prisoner may be handed anything.

Double Door

Near the two large tanks, remote control switch boxes permit an officer to open or close any one of the cells without entering the corridor leading alongside the cells. If all the prisoners in a cell holding 12 men should rush out when the door was opened automatically for one, there would be no danger since there is still a locked door between them and the guard.
It is planned that a large room near the elevator shaft above the jail will be used for storing prisoners’ suitcases, etc.
The sheriff is not sorry to see the passing of the old Hall of Records jail, although he did practically build it with his own hands with the help of the prison gang in 1940. The old jail was equipped to handle 60 prisoners ordinarily and 120 during a rush.
Plans are in the offing for an open house, Sheriff Hathway stated, at which time the public will be invited to visit and inspect the new quarters. The date will be announced later.

In other war news of the week the West Coast was under blackout restrictions to make it harder for enemy bombers and submarines to find targets at night.

American bombers flew daylight raids over Europe as the America began to produce enough planes and air crews to form a fighting force.

Related posts:

  1. Japanese internment announced World War II week by week
  2. Segregation in San Luis Obispo, World War II week by week
  3. Invasion of Guadalcanal, World War II week by week
  4. Old Paso Robles City Jail 1964
  5. 1941 in San Luis Obispo County, year in review