Join us in calling for the permanent closure of County Jail #4 at 850 Bryant St, without increased policing, new jails, out-of-county transfers or electronic surveillance monitoring. Together we can build a jail-free San Francisco!
COVID-19 & SF’s Jail Crisis
The rapidly developing COVID-19 crisis both exacerbates health risks for all prisoners and communities and also is a critical opportunity for us to release thousands of prisoners throughout our counties’ jails and state’s prisons. As social, economic and political institutions shift to curtail the pandemic and address our dire health needs in this pivotal moment, more and more city officials and administrators are beginning to recognize the imminent threat imprisonment poses to our health, safety and survival nationally as well as locally.
In San Francisco, the Public Defender and District Attorney have both directed their staff to keep virus-vulnerable people out of jail and to reduce the jail population in order to prevent coronavirus outbreak. Additionally, the Public Defender explicitly called for the Police Chief to “stop citing or arresting people for infractions, misdemeanors and non-violent felonies ‘unless there is a clear and present danger of imminent harm.’” Last week, many of your organizations signed our letter urging the SF Board of Supervisors to now take urgent action in immediately beginning to decarcerate the city’s entire jail system as a public health measure in fighting the spread of COVID-19 by releasing all elderly prisoners over 50, prisoners with pre-existing medical issues, prisoners who qualify for early release, who are imprisoned for pre-trial cases, and who are otherwise particularly vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, such as LGBTQ prisoners, as per the pandemic recommendations of TGI Justice Project. Since delivering this letter to the Board of Supervisors, the Director of Jail Health Services of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, Lisa Pratt, has also advised the city and jail administration to release prisoners immediately to fight the spread of COVID-19 and ensure people in SF are practicing social distancing and complying with Mayor Breed’s shelter-in-place order. Now, Supervisor Fewer has heard our call and will be introducing legislation to permanently close County Jail 4, with co-sponsorship from Supervisors Walton, Ronen, and Haney.
Currently, San Francisco imprisons 899 people throughout its jail system, a reduction from 1,211 in December 2019, and right now is critical for closing down 850 Bryant permanently. In the coming weeks, we will be building more city-wide support for Fewer’s legislation to close 850 Bryant, as we need three more Supervisors on board to overcome a potential Mayoral veto and solidify long-term decarceration. We hope you will join us in action!
In the meantime, here are some links to updates on our decarceration and prisoner support efforts in San Francisco as well as other resources for reducing jail and prison populations and fighting COVID-19 in California: