#ShutDown850 Ordinance Reaches 8 Sponsors & Heads to Committee as Sheriff & SF “Crime” Opposition get Louder

Now veto-proof with eight sponsors signed-on after Supervisor Safai confirmed support this past weekend, Fewer’s ordinance to permanently close 850 Bryant heads to the Government Audit & Oversight Committee on Thursday (4/30), where three supporters of the ordinance will review it and hear public comment.

However, entering committee review with a heavy team of Supervisor support, already with seven supervisors signed on after introduction, the ordinance is still facing some opposition in City Hall.

“The decrepit [850 Bryant] gives Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle a run for its money, but despite its disturbing and unsafe state, our city has dragged its feet when it comes to shutting it down,” says Melissa Hernandez, attorney with NorCal chapter of the ACLU and an organizer of the NoNewSFJails Coalition. Now, with our City seeing a historically low number of less than 700 people being held in San Francisco’s jails, and an ordinance on the floor that will shut down 850 Bryant permanently, Sheriff Paul Miyamoto has continued stalling the closure of County Jail 4. Hernandez explained in a Op-Ed published in the SF Examiner last week: “Rather than working to get as many people out of 850 Bryant, Sheriff Miyamoto went as far as publicly threatening to send people to the notoriously dangerous Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County in February of this year. His plan would have also unnecessarily delayed the closure of County Jail 4 until July 2021.”


In defense of the July 2021 closure date, Sheriff Miyamoto claims that earlier closure of 850 Bryant would displace prisoners into close contact with other inmates in SF’s other two county jails, therefore intensifying the spread of COVID-19.

Mohamed Shehk of Critical Resistance and NoNewSFJails Coalition explained to Garrett Leahy of 48Hills how egregious Miyamoto’s opposition is:

“The fact that he’s using the COVID-19 crisis [as a reason for opposing the early jail closure] is frankly shameful. Keeping 850 Bryant open will in no way reduce the risk of COVID-19 among the jail population. Public health experts have stated that prisons, jails, and detention centers function as incubators for the spread of diseases. As we’ve seen in jails across the country, it is the guards that are the most likely vectors… Keeping the jail open won’t stop guards from interacting with prisoners so won’t stop the spread of the disease. What will is releasing people so they can practice social distancing and have access to medical services.”

Similarly, members of a group Stop Crime SF have been emailing Supervisors steeped in racist and classist ideologies expressing fear of people being released from jail due to COVID, insisting that people locked up in SF jails and homeless residents do not deserve access to health and safety, and demanding the ordinance be amended to allow the Sheriff to build more jail beds when needed. As of today (4/27), they have already organized over 70 opposition letters to the GAO.

NoNewSFJails Coalition is calling on all supporters of a jail-free San Francisco to submit public comment to the GAO meeting on Thursday, April 30th, supporting the ordinance and challenging the opposition’s false claims.

As ACLU’s Melissa Hernandez exclaims:

“If the current COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that building up healthcare and housing for all community members—and not our jails—should have been our top priorities all along. Luckily, closing County Jail 4 will free up considerable economic resources to the tune of nearly $25 million. As our City leaves behind this decrepit remnant of the past, it has an opportunity to reinvest those resources into care, not cages, by funding preventative services such as mental health services, residential treatment, housing, free city college, and job training, and alternatives to incarceration such as transformative and restorative justice programs as suggested by the Work Group to Re-envision the Jail Replacement Project in 2017. We have already started building the infrastructure to end mass incarceration in San Francisco. All we need now is the courage to rise to the occasion to close County Jail 4 and end our reliance on putting people in cages, once and for all.”

**This post contains the written work of Melissa Hernandez and Garret Leahy. To read the full articles quoted in this post, check out Hernandez’s SF Examiner Op-Ed here and Leahy’s 48Hills interview with Mohamed Shehk here. 

Final Report Card for SF’s District Attorney

“We can’t incarcerate our way to safety”

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Since Chesa Boudin’s first day in office as District Attorney of San Francisco, the No New SF Jail Coalition has watched the total numbers of people locked up in San Francisco jails, to track Boudin’s progress toward fulfilling his promise to reduce the city’s jail population and closing the county jail at 850 Bryant St. This week marks the end of Boudin’s first 100 days in office, and it is now clearer than ever that closing the jail is both possible and necessary.

Less than 2 months into Boudin’s tenure as DA, Governor Newsom announced a state of emergency in California in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, setting into motion the expedited release of nearly 400 people in a little over a month. Since Boudin took office, the jail population in San Francisco has decreased by around 40% and the jail population at 850 Bryant has decreased by over 50%.

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Continue reading “Final Report Card for SF’s District Attorney”

Social Media Storm on #415Day Makes Waves to #ShutDown850

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A beautiful day in the fight against jails in the Bay Area, on Wednesday (4/15), hundreds of NoNewSFJails supporters made phone calls, emails, posts, status updates, tweets, pictures, texts, videos, reposting & re-sharing as we digitally stormed SF Supervisors to SHUT DOWN 850 NOW!, while uplifting the countless reasons why jails, prisons and cages of any sort do not make our communities safe or healthy. Together our efforts had significant reach across the internet and has already generated much of the public pressure we need to see Fewer’s ordinance through. 

With seven endorsements from the Board of Supervisors currently–Fewer, Haney, Walton, Ronen, Preston, Mar and Peskin— the ordinance to close County Jail 4, introduced by Fewer just on Tuesday, is gaining more momentum to actually shut down the dilapidated death-trap 850 Bryant than any other legislation has in 24 years since being sited for demolition in 1996.

Continue reading “Social Media Storm on #415Day Makes Waves to #ShutDown850”

TODAY: 415 Digital Day of Action to #ShutDown850!

Yesterday after Fewer introduced her ordinance to permanently close County Jail 4 at 850 Bryant, Supervisors Peskin and Mar joined Haney, Walton, Ronen, and Preston in endorsing the ordinance. In order to prevent a possible mayoral veto, we still need one more supervisor to support the ordinance.

TODAYhelp us urge Supervisors Yee & Mandelman to VOTE YES on Fewer’s ordinance by taking these four simple actions:


1. Email Mandelman & Yee!

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Contact Supervisors directly and urge them to VOTE YES on Fewer’s legislation. Email addresses & email script here! 


2. Make a Sign, Video or Status & Post to your Social Media Accounts!


Post to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, tagging the Supervisors & using our hashtags.

Example signs, tweets & all the information you need for your post here!

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3. Call the Supervisors & Leave a Message!

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Phone numbers and phone script here.



4. Spread the Storm & Get your Friends & Communities to Join Us!

Repost & forward our call to action & action instructions to your accounts and networks.


Downloadable pdf of our Instructions flyer here

BREAKING: 2 More Supervisors Sign-on to #ShutDown850, 1 More to Go!

APRIL 14, 2020:  With support from NoNewSFJails Coalition, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer introduced an ordinance at the Board of Supervisors meeting today to close the dilapidated Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St, which includes the permanent closure of County Jail #4. Supervisors Haney, Ronen, Walton, and Preston endorsed the legislation, and Supervisors Mar and Peskin signed-on at the introduction earlier today, leaving us with one more Supervisor to persuade in order to prevent a potential mayoral veto.

If passed, the ordinance will:

  • Close the decrepit and earthquake-unsafe CJ4 by November 1, 2020;  
  • Require San Francisco to keep the number of people in cages within the county below 1044 people;
  • Prohibit the city to achieve this number by transferring people out-of-county or by increasing the number of people on electronic monitoring surveillance;
  • Prohibit the city from building a new jail. 

The ordinance is in line with a decision made unanimously by the Board of Supervisors in 2015 to reject funding for a new replacement jail and to create a county work group to investigate alternatives that can close 850 Bryant St by reducing the jail population, expanding alternatives to imprisonment, and investing in community resources. Fewer’s latest ordinance is the first legislation that seeks to implement the spirit of these recommendations.

Daniel Mendoza of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, himself imprisoned at the 850 Bryant St. jail, says:

“There is no better time for this legislation. As more and more people are released from jail to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, it is all the more urgent to shift our priorities to providing housing and healthcare rather than wasting resources to lock people up in jails – which are fundamentally unsafe, unhealthy, and violent. We applaud Supervisor Fewer for taking concrete action to close down the horrid jail at 850 Bryant St, a building that should have been torn down over 20 years ago.”

Now with six supervisors signed on, the ordinance has been assigned to the Government Audit & Oversight (GAO) Committee, where Supervisors Mar, Haney and Peskin will discuss the ordinance and hear public comment before the ordinance comes back to the Board for a final vote.

To help sway Yee or Mandelman in support of the ordinance, and prevent a potential mayoral veto, join our Digital Day of Action TOMORROW, April 15th, as we STORM SOCIAL MEDIA to #ShutDown850 now!

Details and instructions on how to participate on our action page here


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Organizing Against Imprisonment in the Time of COVID

As the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping fast through communities around the world, over 300 organizers began connecting digitally to discuss grassroots campaigns fighting for the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 related deaths—- prisoners. Critical Resistance, one of the organizations involved in NoNewSFJails Coalition, organized the webinar on Monday, March 30th, which featured nine organizers across the US (two of whom also represented two different organizations in NoNewSfJails Coalition) as they shared their campaigns fighting to get people free from jails and state prisons.

Illustration of the webinar by Elizabeth Hee

Kyle Niel, from CUAV, one anchor organization of NoNewSFJails Coalition, spoke on the digital panel about our fight to shut down San Francisco County Jail 4 at 850 Bryant, what COVID-19 means for people locked up in San Francisco’s jails, and how NoNewSFJails Coalition is responding to the crisis. Amber Akemi Piatt from Human Impact Partners, a member of NoNewSFJails coalition that is also working with people locked up in Santa Rita jail and the Audit Sheriff Ahern campaign, explained the conditions of jail and how health inside is non-existent, as she played an audio recording of a man imprisoned at Santa Rita right now, saying: “They’re not doing nothing, man, to try keep anybody healthy. If something breaks out in this jail, there’s going to be a whole lot of people that die because they’re ill-equipped to even try to handle something of this magnitude.”

Laura Whitehorn, a former prisoner and another panelist representing Release Aging People in Prisons (RAPP) in New York which is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in the US, urges:

“One of the things that we’re trying to emphasize is that public health criteria should be used [right now]. Not ‘criminal justice’ criteria to decide when people are getting out. […] We have so many public health experts saying, and I think this is our overall message,–there is no way that jails and prisons can protect people, treat people, keep people alive, keep people from acquiring this virus. It’s the opposite. [Jails and prisons] are a wildfire, a petri dish for viruses like this. [….] We need to fight like hell […]. In a moment like this where there is tremendous disaster, either the ruling class, the police, they all get stronger and stronger, and the corporations, or there’s room for, dare I say, revolutionary justice to be talked about. So release them all.”

A number of resources were also shared during the panel and from members of the audience in the webinar’s chat. Resources for anti-prison organizing in the time of COVID-19 can be found on Critical Resistance’s website here.

You can watch the entire webinar right below. Discussion of our fight to #ShutDown850 begins at 24:22: