GAO Victory: Our #ShutDown850 Ordinance Heads for Final BOS Vote May 12th

Yesterday over 200 San Franciscans and Bay Area residents virtually swarmed City Hall yet again in support of Supervisor Fewer’s ordinance to permanently close 850 Bryant once and for all.

 The GAO vote was unanimous: 3-0 in favor of our ordinance!

NoNewSFJails worked with Fewer’s office to hold a press conference before the GAO meeting, featuring two speakers–Jose Bernal with Ella Baker Center & SF’s Re-Entry Council and Daniel Mendoza with CURYJ- both of whom have experience being imprisoned in 850 Bryant before, as well as Alexi Jones, a policy analyst with Prison Policy Initiative.

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During the GAO meeting, 22 speakers–including doctors and other healthcare workers, social workers, lawyers, former prisoners, survivors of violence, teachers and educators–called-in to the Committee representing communities across SF’s districts, and over 174 supporters submitted  letters to the Committee’s record, all urging the GAO committee to recommend Fewer’s ordinance to the BOS to close 850 permanently, without out-of-county transfers or other jail expansions.

Among yesterday’s many speakers, NoNewSFJails organizer and CUAV co-director, Lidia Salazar gave a powerful and timely statement on the layers of trauma jailing, criminalization and policing cause, and the need for our city to use community accountability and transformative healing practices instead:

Similarly, Chelsea Crumpler, Outreach Coordinator of Coalition on Homelessness, a long-standing member of NNSFJ, said:

“It is ridiculous 850 Bryant is still open and it must be immediately closed. Not only has 850 been structurally unsafe for decades, but now with the threat of COVID19 mixed with the constant unsanitary condition of 850, it has become a constitutional violation, subjecting those imprisoned to cruel and unusual punishment. 850 hurts our community and our most vulnerable residents. When I see that 40% of those incarcerated are homeless upon imprisonment, and that over 20 million is annually spent on policing quality of life resulting in unsheltered people being subjected to harassment and the destruction and confiscation of their tents and personal belongings, it is difficult to not feel San Francisco criminalizes homelessness and poverty.

We need to close 850 and stop the revolving door that perpetuates criminalization, homelessness and poverty. I grew up in poverty and witnessing this revolving door in not only my community but in my family, especially my mothers, who biggest crime was being chronically homeless, mentally ill and an addict. We need a community approach to healing and reconciliation and closing 850 Bryant will free up the much needed revenue for those programs, housing being at the top of that list. The research shows that housing first works, and, unlike incarceration, drastically improves not just individuals’ physical and mental health but our communities’ as well. If COVID19 has taught us anything, it has taught us that the health of one of us is dependent on the health of all of us.

Additionally, during the GAO meeting, Supervisor Fewer and Sheriff Miyamoto both referred to recent amendments that had been made to the ordinance. Notes on these amendments can be found on our People’s Summary of the ordinance here

Our ordinance now moves to the full Board of Supervisors for a final vote on Tuesday, May 12th!

While we keep getting closer than ever to passing this legislation, our fight is far from over. NoNewSFJails is committed to:

  • Monitoring the full legislative process of passing and implementing this ordinance, ready to intervene where necessary as Sheriff Miyamoto continues to try to amend the ordinance to allow continued use of CJ4

 

  • Updating you on upcoming opportunities to take action and support the passing of our legislation and the permanent closure of 850 Bryant

 

  • Building and growing San Francisco’s movement against jailing, policing and criminalization.