On June 14, 2016 the Alameda Jail Fight Coalition mobilized to the County Board of Supervisors meeting to demand that Alameda County fund #CareNotCages, and reject the proposed $61.3 million expansion of the Santa Rita jail. We demand investments in alternatives to incarceration that keep our families together and our communities safe and divestment from imprisonment. Over 30 coalition members, teachers, union workers, and healthcare workers turned out to rally in front of the County Administration Building the morning of June 14th.
We held a press conference covered by KTVU news and KPFA radio and did a powerful Assata chant.
The Sheriff’s office, County Counsel, Behavioral Health Care Services, General Services Agency, and the County Administrator presented a lengthy presentation, pulling out all the stops in support for the jail expansion. We see their scramble as a victory in our effective advocacy against the jail. Our organizing obviously had them scared! We packed the supervisor chambers with powerful testimonies and insisted that the Board of Supervisors and agency officials respond to our questions. After significant confusion and discussion amongst the Board of Supervisors, Supervisors Valle and Chan mandated 3 amendments to the resolution:
- Criminal Justice Mental Health (CJMH) to present and do an annual report to the full board on the mental health services provided in Santa Rita Jail and the outcomes of those with mental illness in lock-up.
- Mandate the General Services Agency (GSA) to give status report on the expansion project twice a year to the Public Protections committee
- CJMH and Behavioral Health Care Services (BHCS) will report on staff and programming plans for the unit at Public Health Committee
Although the Board of Supervisors approved financing for the project and pre-design architect with the amendments moving forward, this jail fight is far from over. A construction builder has not been chosen and ground has yet to be broken. The Alameda County Jail Fight Coalition is still meeting on Thursdays at 5pm at 1970 Broadway to plan the next steps in preventing this expansion from being built and making sure that our County’s resources stay in the community.
In addition to fighting against Santa Rita Jail, the coalition is working alongside Alameda County’s Mental Health Advisory Board to develop an Alternatives to Incarceration Plan for the Board of Supervisors to adopt this year. These points of intervention are crucial for the jail fight coalition and your continued solidarity is pertinent to this movement to shrink the prison system in Alameda County.