Oct 17: A Response to Mayor Breed: San Francisco Can Close 850 Bryant Without New Jails or Transfers

Response to Mayor Breed’s Proposal by the No New SF Jail Coalition
Press Contact: Mohamed Shehk –mohamed@criticalresistance.org, No New SF Jail Coalition

Today Mayor Breed announced a delayed closure of the jail at 850 Bryant that would potentially keep people imprisoned in the seismically unsafe building until July 2021. While we anxiously await the closure, we note, on the anniversary of the Loma Prieta disaster, that this date does not come soon enough. The City Administrator previously announced that the Hall of Justice should close by 2019, yet today London Breed has announced people may stay in the decrepit jail for almost another two years. The No New SF Jail Coalition believes it is possible to close the jail by July 2020, and will still pursue this time frame despite Breed’s announcement.

The fastest way to ensure the safety of people inside the jail is to work towards release and decriminalization. These efforts were intended to be part of an initiative of population reduction that Breed herself initiated in 2015 when the Board rejected a replacement jail. Contrary to that initiative, today’s vague plan would construct a replacement jail and leaves open the possibility of transferring people to the notoriously horrid Santa Rita Jail over the next two decades or re-opening the closed jail at San Bruno. This is unconscionable.

Paul Wilbert Lee Sr. died in January of 2018 as a result of abuse and medical neglect while in Santa Rita Jail. In response to Mayor Breed’s announcement, Lee Sr.’s sister Tanasha Lee stated: “What is the purpose of transferring prisoners to another facility? That’s not going to make prisoners better. They treat you like animals in Santa Rita, especially Blacks and Latinos. They don’t give anyone proper health care and my brother died from Santa Rita Jail abuse and neglect. I’m not just fighting for justice for my brother, I’m fighting for every person who has a family member in Santa Rita.

That includes people in 850 Bryant who might be transferred there if this proposal moves forward. Instead, we need to create places and opportunities where people can rebuild themselves out in the public and not in a jail — there shouldn’t be a transfer and there shouldn’t be a new jail facility built where people will still be mistreated.” 

Santa Rita Jail has been noted as the “most dangerous place in Alameda County” where there have been multiple recent lawsuits surrounding deaths, pregnancy miscarriages, and sleep deprivation. Additionally, Alameda County Sheriffs have confirmed their practice of alerting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of release dates of immigrants, effectively supporting ICE to arrest immigrants when leaving jail custody. The No New SF Jail coalition firmly opposes any transfers out of county and calls on the Board of Supervisors to make a commitment against this and refuse to allocate any budget to transfers. Opposing transfers does not lock us into re-opening the closed jail at San Bruno as a maximum security jail as Sheriff Hennessy has indicated in the past. Nor does it mean that San Francisco must build a new jail.

Opposing transfers does not lock us into re-opening the closed jail at San Bruno as a maximum security jail as Sheriff Hennessy has indicated in the past. Nor does it mean that San Francisco must build a new jail. San Francisco can still be a leader in closing jails through pretrial reform, decriminalization, and investments in community resources.

Breed’s proposed “Justice Campus” is an attempt to reincarnate plans that the city has already decided against. For instance, the “Behavioral Health Justice Center” was voted down in 2017; supervisors unanimously voted against building a new jail in 2015. The No New SF Jail opposed both of these proposals, and calls on the Supervisors to reject any new proposals that resemble them.
“Building a new jail is not a solution. Investing and reallocating funds into communities to create holistic change is what we need. Jails, prisons, and detention facilities don’t help people, they are physical structures that are built to break people of color spiritually and mentally. It is important that we center people that are directly impacted by incarceration as it externally impacts the lives of their families. This is the time to shift towards healthy practices that can and will support people to live their best lives,” said K.I Finao (they/them pronouns) of the Young Women’s Freedom Center.  

Tomorrow, Suzy Loftus will officially be sworn into her position as District Attorney in an unpopular move by Mayor Breed. In tandem with today’s announcement regarding proposed jail construction this signals a lack of confidence that the new District Attorney will be committed or able to significantly reduce the jail population size.

“At its core, this campaign is not just about closing 850 Bryant but is about reconciling the fundamental racial and economic injustices of jailing by addressing the problem at its root through housing, mental healthcare, and decriminalization. We do this work for and with others impacted by jailing, 40% of whom are homeless. The jailed population is now potentially the newest group to be displaced out of San Francisco to the East Bay among so many others,” said Sam Lew of the Coalition on Homelessness.

The No New SF Jail coalition and supporters of the closure of 850 Bryant will be attending tomorrow’s hearing at the Board of Supervisors and calling for action in support of closure of the jail at 850 Bryant without any proposed new jail construction or transfers.


Our Friends in Los Angeles are Making History!

Over the last few years, there has been a community-wide fight led by JusticeLA against any expansion of jails in Los Angeles. Here at NoNewSFJail, we are inspired by their work and overjoyed that the time, resources, and energy that was spent to take a momentous stand against the Prison Industrial Complex resulted in a resounding win. We hope to carry that momentum into our own campaign to close Jail #4 at 850 Bryant!

Below is the email that was sent out detailing Justice LA’s work.

We made history….Again!

Today, Justice LA and many other organizations and community members accomplished what we were told was an impossible feat. For nearly a decade, the specter of a massive $3.5 billion jail plan loomed over the people of Los Angeles. We resisted the creation of more cages, we reclaimed the calls for public safety, we reimagined our county with community-based care, and we won. In February of this year, we successfully defeated the women’s jail plan, and today, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of cancelling the contract with McCarthy to build a mental health jail! 

Read JusticeLA’s press release here.

This victory is celebrated on the shoulders of community members on the front lines of state violence – the youth targeted by gang injunctions in our neighborhoods, the mothers that buried their children as a result of sheriff violence, the families separated because they could not afford bail. Through our collective work, we have not only stopped two jails in our county, we have redirected the county away from punitive systems and towards community reinvestment. 
 But our organizing is not over! The sheriff’s department made it clear today that they will fight progress every step of the way. It is up to us to ensure the implementation of a new vision for Los Angeles. 

So what’s next?

  • Ensuring the reinvestment of the nearly $1 billion that would have been used for jail construction.
  • Fighting for robust pretrial reform that does not replace money bail with risk assessment instruments nor an expansion of electronic monitoring in Los Angeles  
  • Continuing to build on the Alternatives to Incarceration Workgroup’s interim report and ensure that the final report reflects the will of the community.
  • Building mechanisms to hold the sheriff’s department, probation department and the district attorney accountable and strip power from their departments. 
  • Eliminating the attacks of police and law enforcement on LA’s communities of color.

Our work towards decarceration and community reinvestment in LA County is not over. #JusticeLA will continue to lead on the implementation of the community-based system of care we envisioned. Congratulations to our coalition members and thank you to our partners and allies for standing so strong with us today! We encourage everyone to stay plugged in and stay activated! 


Our Day of Action!

On Thursday July 25th, nearly 100 people mobilized to San Francisco City Hall to demand that the Board of Supervisors and Mayor take immediate action to shut down the jail at 850 Bryant. The Day of Action to Shut Down 850 included advocacy meetings with Supervisors and their staff, outreach to the Tenderloin and Civic Center – areas highly impacted by jailing, and an email and call in campaign to the Supervisors.

Thank you to all those who participated! Together we generated over 100 calls to Supervisors. We spoke with representatives from all 11 Supervisors offices and community members met directly with Supervisors Ronen and Mandelman to share the impact of jailing and policing on their lives. Our letter to close 850 Bryant was signed by 70 San Francisco community based organizations.

Our demands to close the jail are clear, strong, and achievable.

  • The City must reduce the jail population through alternatives to incarceration, immediately closing down the jail at 850 Bryant through providing housing and treatment services, decriminalizing quality of life charges, and reducing the number of people imprisoned pretrial.
  • San Francisco must not use strategies that increase the hardship on imprisoned people or their loved ones, nor strategies that increase the City’s spending on criminalization, such as transfers to other jurisdictions jails, any new jail construction or reopening, or expanded electronic monitoring.
“We support shutting down 850 because it costs at least $258 to imprison someone per day, and instead of using this money to criminalize people, we could use it for services like housing or treatment programs and then to improve our schools we could use it to add counselors to our schools so the students there won’t be going into the school to prison pipeline and won’t have to go through it.” 
– Briseis, Coleman CMACer, speaking to Supervisor Rafael Mandelman on why we need him to sign the letter committing to closing 850 by July 2020

During the Day of Action, Supervisor Ronen joined 75 organizations and Supervisor Haney in signing on to our letter to close the jail. Other members of the Board of Supervisors heard our call, and on July 30th when Supervisor Haney introduced legislation for a hearing to close the jail, Supervisors Ronen, Fewer, Walton, Brown, and Yee co-sponsoring.

Announcing the hearing, Supervisor Haney noted that “People who are housed [sic] there need and deserve individualized treatment and rehabilitation, not concrete cellblocks in a fundamentally unsound building… The community has recognized the need to act.” Then addressing his colleagues further, he continued, “Many of you were lobbied, I believe, last week. One hundred community members that came and met with our respective offices. Seventy community organizations who signed on, united and this amount to take immediate steps. In 2015 we rejected new jail construction, and instead directed departments to pursue ways to reduce the jail population. We are now well along in the process, and need to put forward both a process and a plan for this jail to be closed.”

Since 2014, the Board of Supervisors has hosted over a dozen hearings relating to closure of the jail that have consistently reiterated to close the jail at 850 Bryant. The time is now and the No New SF Jail coalition will work to ensure that the upcoming hearing initiates concrete steps towards closure and legislation to shut down 850 by June 2020! Join Us.

Action Alert: Monday Oct 22 2018

Close 850 Bryant! No New Cops! No New Jails!

The No New SF Jail Coalition continues to steadily fight jail construction while also pressing for a closure of the jail at 850 Bryant. Despite the Board of Supervisors commitment to close 850 Bryant without building a new jail, we have seen no progress to that effect. In fact, jail population numbers continue to rise, particularly with an increase in police attacks on houseless people. Mayor Breed’s approval of 200 new police hires endangers community safety as gentrification and imprisonment in San Francisco are on the rise. 

Rally and Action – Spread the word on Facebook!!
Monday October 22nd, 2018 4pm-6pm
San Francisco City Hall, Polk Street Side
Civic Center Plaza

Join our Art Build on Saturday October 20th from 4-6pm
at SOMCAN – 1100 Howard Street, SF (check FB action page for details)

Endorsed by: No New SF Jail Coalition, ANSWER Coalition, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Causa Justa: Just Cause, Coleman Advocates for Youth, Critical Resistance Oakland, Do No Harm Collective, Idriss Stelley Foundation, Gay Shame, Mujeras Unidas y Activas, Senior and Disability Action, SF DSA Justice Committee, Survived and Punished, and TGI Justice Project.

To endorse, email nosfjail@curbprisonspending.org

October 24th: Testify at the Board of Supervisors

EVENT INFO ON FACEBOOKThe rally on Oct 22nd is building momentum for a Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee hearing on October 24th at 10am. The hearing is to discuss progress on the recommendations made last year by the Board of Supervisor’s empowered Workgroup to Re-envision the Jail Replacement Project. While this workgroup proposed dozens of policy and programmatic solutions as well as investments to reduce jail population there has been little accountability or funding for implementation.

Turn out to the Board of Supervisors to support coalition demands:

  • Close 850 Bryant Now
  • Invest in cooperative housing and neighborhood based services
  • Support transformative justice practices instead of imprisonment
  • Reverse the increased size of police force

Talking points and additional information about the coalition demands will be available at the hearing.

Videos from Abolish PIC Summit April 2018

Organizing and Advocacy with Imprisoned People

Panel Members: Woods Ervin (Transgender, Genderqueer and Intersex Justice Project), Julia Arroyo (Young Women’s Freedom Center), Alisha Coleman (FiredUp), Elisa Baier (Garden Program at SF Jail)

Moderator: Diana Block (California Coalition for Women Prisoners)

Different groups speak on organizing and working with people inside SF jail, including the Fired Up empowerment group and a gardening project in the women’s pod. The breakout group covers the importance of organizing with people inside, strategies to best advocate for and with people in jail or prison, and the relevance of this work in San Francisco, especially as it relates to closing 850 Bryant jail.






Sharing Liberatory Practices in Dismantling the PIC

Panel Members: Jose Bernal (Hospitality House), Liz Kroboth (Do No Harm), Gloria Esteva-Martinez (Causa Justa)

Moderator: Woods Ervin (Transgender, Genderqueer, Intersex Justice Project)

The panel shares its organizing efforts in the push to close the SF jail, including the Transgender, Genderqueer, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), Causa Justa and health care groups recognizing policing as a public harm. The discussion covers the importance of unifying with other organizations through protection/solidarity and empowering communities through investing in them.


Program for “Joining Forces Against Policing and Jails in SF”


Registration: [9:45 – 10:15am]

Intro: What we’re up against [10:15 – 10:30am]

Panel & Discussion: Current campaigns fighting policing, jails, and criminalization in SF [10:30 – 12:00pm]

Hear from groups organizing to end gang injunctions, close 850 Bryant jail, fight the criminalization of migrants, and ensure justice for SFPD murders. In connecting these campaigns and strategies, we will begin to build collective vision and demands.

Honoring community members killed by SFPD [12pm]

Lunch [12:20 – 12:55pm]

During lunch, there will be time to share your story and explore the work and resources of different groups.

Breakouts: Workshops to share tactics & strategize to win [1:00 – 2:30pm]

  • Participatory Defense – Young Women’s Freedom Center and SV Debug
  • Media Tactics & Language to Fight the PIC – Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Critical Resistance
  • Abolition of Policing & History of SFPD – Critical Resistance Oakland and Adriana Camarena w/ Justice 4 Luis Gongora Pat
  • Sharing our strategies and working together across campaigns – you are encouraged to send a rep from your campaign to this roundtable
  • Organizing and Advocacy with Imprisoned People – Fired Up, a project of California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Young Women’s Freedom Center, TGI Justice Project, and SF jail gardening project.

Closeout: Next steps [2:30 – 3:00pm]

Upcoming actions, how to get involved and continue to build together

Mayan War Room in Honor of Luís Góngora Pat [6:30 – 9pm]

After the summit, you are invited to attend: A Fundraiser and Art & Revolution exhibit of his family’s struggle for justice, including original embroidered protest artwork by Luis’s widow and daughter from Yucatan. Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts: 2868 Mission St, San Francisco

**Note: We are working in coordination with Justice for Luis Gongora which is commemorating the 2nd anniversary of his killing by SFPD on April 7th. There will be Mayan ceremony and commemoration of his life led by his family, at his altar @ Shotwell and 19th Street. We encourage you to either join us at the Summit for our start time at 10am or respectfully join Luis’ family in their ceremony before coming to the Summit. Luis’ family, friends, and those organizing his campaign will honor him during the Summit as well.**

County Jail 2: An Overview of the Sheriff’s 2017 Proposal

April 19, 2017

Sheriff Vicki Hennessy is applying for $70 million from the state for a jail renovation that will cost San Francisco over $25 million dollars. This will re-entrench the city’s racist, anti-poor and anti-homeless jail system, while opening the door for years of expansion.

Increase in bed count: Sheriff Vicki Hennessy plans to renovate an area of County Jail 2 that has been closed for years (Pod D, Upper), resulting in an expansion of jail capacity by 24 people.

Increase in isolation and surveillance: The open dormitories in County Jail 2 would be renovated to create a more closed maximum security cell structure and higher security classifications which inhumanely restrict movement and increase isolation.

Who would be impacted: The proposal would create 24 two person maximum security cells, where the Sheriff proposes to jail people needing mental health treatment. The Sheriff also plans to renovate an area of the jail where transgender prisoners are held (Pod A, Upper), potentially resulting in their transfer to maximum security cells capable of increased isolation and control, rather than working to release transgender prisoners. Additionally, the Sheriff’s proposal creates 4 disability compliant cells which will be maximum security cells where people may face additional isolation and control of movement simply due to their disability.

Transfer of prisoners: The Sheriff suggests two disastrous options for where to put CJ2 prisoners during construction. In the first option, San Francisco would rent beds in another county during construction (likely Santa Rita jail in Alameda County), costing approx. $13.5 million in leased bed space, not including costly prisoner transportation from the jail to court and other appointments, and making access to loved ones and lawyers more difficult. In the second option, prisoners would be transferred to County Jail 3 in 850 Bryant and housed there until renovations to County Jail 2 conclude in 2021 or later, costing $3 million in updates to the failing structure. This is entirely counter to the intent of closing the 850 Bryant and lowering the jail population.

 Only first phase of a costly spending on jails: This initial proposal amounts to $83 million, while the Sheriff’s Department has cited the cost of full renovations (“Phase Two”) at $200 million or more.

Possible elimination of contact visitation: The proposal plans to install screens in the visitation rooms. It is unclear whether screens will be installed in all visitation spaces or whether this will apply only to maximum security prisoners.

Programing space: The proposal adds additional programing space, however there will be security screens to separate prisoners in some of these program spaces, and the majority of program spaces are holding cells and medical treatment rooms. It is unclear what will actually be used for supportive programing for prisoners.

We are working towards a jail-free San Francisco. Instead of signing blank checks for enhancing jail infrastructure, the city needs to commit to permanently closing 850 Bryant and stopping its reliance on policing and jailing to address social and economic issues. When over half of San Francisco’s jailed population is African American, most prisoners remain locked up because they cannot afford bail, and many prisoners are in need of mental health services, we know that jail renovation is no solution.

No New SF Jail Coalition releases comprehensive plan to reduce SF’s reliance on jails

For immediate release – Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What:             Press Conference to unveil “San Francisco Community Health Initiative”

When:            Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 10:00am

Where:           SF City Hall (Polk Street Steps), 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA 94102

Who:              Head Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Supervisor John Avalos, Medical Providers, Community Advocates, No New SF Jail Coalition

San Francisco – Today, community organizers with the No New SF Jail Coalition are announcing The San Francisco Community Health Initiative, a comprehensive people’s plan that prioritizes meeting social and economic needs in order to end imprisonment. The plan is backed by medical experts and city leaders, and comes as the Board of Supervisors will be hearing proposals from city agencies, workgroups, and community organizations over the next several months as to how to successfully close 850 Bryant without building a new jail. The No New SF Jail Coalition rejects the notion that mental health can be provided in locked facilities operated by law enforcement, such as the partially locked Behavioral Health Justice Center proposed by District Attorney George Gascon.

City officials are also speaking out against more jails. Supervisor John Avalos has consistently opposed jail construction and helped ensure state funding for more jails in SF was rejected. In advance of the press conference, Public Defender Jeff Adachi indicated his opposition to aspects of the DA’s proposal, stating “Mental health treatment is critically needed in San Francisco. Rather than build a new behavioral health facility, however, I believe our clients would be better served being able to access immediate treatment at San Francisco General while awaiting placement.” Adachi continues to assert bail bond reform for drastically reducing the jail count by releasing under supervision those held simply for not affording bail.

In contrast to Gascon’s proposal, the Coalition’s plan outlines a citywide, community-based approach to providing care through housing, full service partnerships, substance use services, and harm reduction models instead of jailing San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations. Lidia Salazar from Communities United Against Violence reiterated that especially for LGBTQ, Black, and homeless communities targeted by policing, “services need to be separate from law enforcement”. She continued, “We need to continue investing in community-based services that are trauma informed and provided by those most impacted by incarceration. We need services that gives people access to support and the opportunity to take charge in their own healing and transformation.”

Nearly one in four people in the San Francisco jail system are homeless before being imprisoned with an even greater number of people vulnerable to homelessness upon release. “By continuing to divest from pathways out of homelessness, like permanent, affordable or free housing and housing support services – we continue to criminalize poverty and homelessness at neck-breaking rates. The local jail system will simply be used as an emergency shelter and treatment waiting facility only to see the cycle of imprisonment continue. It is beyond time for a shift in priorities and housing investments by the city,” said Lisa Marie Alatorre with the Coalition on Homelessness.

Today’s speakers include:

  • John Avalos – San Francisco Board of Supervisors
  • Roma Guy – Taxpayers for Public Safety
  • Ms Janetta Johnson – Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project
  • Lidia Salazar – Communities United Against Violence
  • Jeff Adachi – Public Defender
  • Dr. Alison Hwong – Medical Resident in the UCSF Psych Dept
  • Lisa Marie Alatorre – Coalition on Homelessness
  • Representatives of Critical Resistance

The No New SF Jail Coalition is a broad based coalition including organizations of formerly imprisoned people, youth with imprisoned parents, and those working on community resources such as health and housing. The Coalition will continue to mobilize to city hearings related to jail alternatives over the next several months, oppose Gascon’s plan, and work towards reducing San Francisco’s reliance on imprisonment.

For more information and a list of endorsers, visit: https://nonewsfjail.wordpress.com/


Advisory: No New SF Jail Releases Report on Community Health Initiatives at Press Conference

Media Advisory – Wednesday, October 5, 2016

No New SF Jail Releases Report on Community Health Initiatives
Tells District Attorney: “Don’t build a locked mental health facility!”

Press Contact:
Lily Fahsi-Haskell: 9123985641, lily@criticalresistance.org
No New SF Jail Coalition

What:          Press Conference to unveil “San Francisco Community Health Initiative”
When:         Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 10:00am
Where:        SF City Hall (Polk Street Steps), 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco
Who:           No New SF Jail Coalition

As District Attorney George Gascon promotes replacing the jail at 850 Bryant with a locked mental health facility controlled by the Courts and Sheriff, community members speak out against this jail by another name. No New SF Jail Coalition will unveil a people’s plan, The San Francisco Community Health Initiative, which prioritizes meeting social and economic needs in order to end imprisonment. Supervisors, healthcare workers, and grassroots activists will speak to the key points of the plan, which outlines a citywide, community-based approach to providing care instead of jailing San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations.

The No New SF Jail Coalition is a broad based coalition including organizations of formerly imprisoned people, youth with incarcerated parents, and those working on community resources such as health and housing. For more information and a list of endorsers, visit: https://nonewsfjail.wordpress.com/


Press Conference: Oppose Locked Mental Health Facility & Propose Alternatives

Press Conference: Oppose Locked Mental Health Facility & Propose Alternatives
Press Conference on Wednesday Oct 12 at 10am
SF City Hall, Civic Center, Polk Street Steps

WHY: Last year we successfully defeated the jail proposal. Now the No New SF Jail coalition has been focused on making sure that SF does not move in a direction of building a jail, or anything that resembles a jail. The District Attorney’s office, as you can imagine, has a different plan focused on mental health – basically a mental health jail. We must stop the District Attorney from advancing this carceral plan and ensure the Supervisors support community based resources and services instead.

Because the Supervisors will be hearing alternative proposals soon, we want to make sure they listen to community and not the DA. The coalition will be holding a press conference on Wednesday, October 12th to push back against the DA’s plan and uplift ours.

The coalition has researched and written a new report that lays out a plan for SF to move away from imprisonment and not rely on the criminal justice system. Check it out!