No more Jails! No More Cops!

This past week, the No New SF Jail Coalition ramped up resistance to imprisonment and policing in San Francisco. On Monday, over 100 community members rallied at City Hall to demand the closure of the jail in the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St, while also opposing the Board of Supervisors’ and Mayor’s approval to expand the San Francisco Police Department by 200 new positions. On Wednesday, we mobilized to a city hearing to give public testimony to make our demands heard.

Despite a city-wide consensus that the Hall of Justice is decrepit and seismically unsound, along with a unanimous commitment from the Board of Supervisors to close the onsite jail, city officials have taken few steps toward this commitment. The Coalition is urging the Board to take urgent action to fulfill its promise to close 850 Bryant without reopening or constructing new jails, especially due to the imminent risk that imprisoned people face in the case of an earthquake.

During the rally, a banner was raised up to Mayor Breed’s window on the second floor of city hall to demand no more police hires or jails in San Francisco while protest participants shouted out what they’d like to see instead of cops and jails.

Coalition member Ms. Janetta Johnson of TGI Justice Project spoke about the urgent need for more community resources and alternatives to policing and imprisonment that the city should invest in, rather than wasting money on hiring more police officers. Other representatives from the Idriss Stelley Foundation and the Do No Harm Collective spoke about the first hand experiences of imprisoned people and advocated for appropriate solutions to providing mental health resources within the community rather than locking people up, which will inevitably result in the neglect of people’s health. Juliana Morris with Do No Harm Collective said, “We see the current policing and incarceration in our communities as a major health crisis and believe strongly that resources need to be redirected to support housing, community programs, mental health services and other health services.”

During Wednesday’s Public Safety Committee hearing, we heard from the Workgroup to Re-envision the Jail Replacement Project, an ad hoc workgroup that was convened by the Board to develop alternatives to jail construction. City departments and other presenters described how the jail population hasn’t decreased but has even increased slightly in the last two years. While Supervisors were appropriately baffled not seeing a reduction in the number of people in custody, we know that this is the inevitable result of increased policing rather than investments in housing and supportive resources.

Sheriff Vicki Hennessy continues to argue that her only options will soon be to either use $9 million to reopen the closed County Jail 6 at San Bruno or to lease bed space in Alameda County’s Santa Rita jail for an estimated 10-15 years until a new jail can be built on the site of the Hall of Justice. These are not viable options for our communities and directly contradict city commitments to not to build a new jail.

Organizers and anti-jail advocates provided testimony that increased policing and criminalization will only result in more people in jail and emphasized that even seismically safe jails aren’t safe. Instead of focusing solely on numbers, organizers reminded city officials that jails are caging poor, predominately Black and Brown people and demanded that the public safety committee focus on life affirming resources that actually strengthen our communities, such as housing and mental health care. Until we win, will continue to raise our demands:

  • Close 850 Bryant Now
  • Oppose any new jail renovation or construction
  • Invest in cooperative housing and neighborhood based services
  • Support transformative justice practices instead of imprisonment
  • Reverse the increased size of police force

City Meetings to Close the Jail Continue: Turn Out and Testify!

On May 13th, the City of San Francisco Work Group to Re-envision the Jail Replacement Project met for the third time. The group will be meeting monthly until October, when they plan to make proposals to City leaders about how to close the jail at 850 Bryant and create alternative programs to imprisonment.

Several members of the No New SF Jail Coalition have joined this City Work Group and we are also encouraging members of the public to attend the monthly meetings in order to provide public comment and ensure we stay on the right track!
Recap of the May meeting:
At the May meeting, the Work Group was presented with proposals addressing what they are calling “Intercepts 1 and 2”, the points at which people come into contact with law enforcement and a person’s initial arrest and detention. Members of the Work Group and members of the public also responded to the introduction of “Intercept 0” which has been added into the Intercept Model in order to point to the need to change conditions before contact with law enforcement. While we applauded the introduction of this point into the framework, members of the No New SF Jail Coalition and others stressed the need for real policy change, resources, and funding to address Intercept 0, rather than just a theoretical framework. Additionally workgroup members stressed the need to integrate an understanding of the ways policing and jailing target people of color and poor people in order to really address this type of structural oppression.
No New SF Jail Coalition members introduced our “8 Guiding Steps Towards Ending Jailing” to the City Work Group and members of the public in attendance. The guiding steps were well received, with Work Group members discussing in small groups throughout the meeting and using the steps as a reference point when developing concrete proposals.
Upcoming meeting:
The Coalition hopes to continue to contribute specific feedback and research towards a jail-free San Francisco. We are currently working on our own decarceration plan for the city and researching issues such as bail bond reform and pre-trial release programs in order to give concrete recommendations.
We encourage you to join us at these meetings. San Francisco is currently engaged in an historic process. Come be a part of it!

Next Meeting: June 10th from 2-5pm
25 Van Ness, Room 610, Near SF Civic Center

We need your public comment at these monthly meetings to continue to uplift community based alternatives to imprisonment! Contact for more info.

No New SF Jail Coalition’s “8 Guiding Steps Towards Ending Jailing”

As the No New SF Jail Coalition, we are proud of our recent victory in getting the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Vicki Hennessy to reject $80 million dollars of state money to construct a new jail in San Francisco. It sets an important precedent showing that it is possible to defeat jail expansion plans. However, we recognize that the work of stopping racist jail and police policies and practices in San Francisco is ongoing. People of color and poor people are being targeted by the violence of everyday policing and being killed by the cops in increasing numbers. They are arrested and jailed at higher rates, and this is all part of forced displacement from San Francisco as a racist gentrification process threatens to take over the city. We must work to counter the violence of policing and jailing by addressing the racist roots of these systems. The work of our Coalition must continue as part of an ongoing struggle to reverse the direction that San Francisco is moving in and build a collective vision of a city where racist policing and jailing policies are replaced by community policies and services that provide all residents with access to what they need to thrive.

Members of our coalition are currently part of a working group convened by the city to “re-envision” the jail replacement project. Here, we are advocating for the permanent closure of the current jail at 850 Bryant and real investment in the health of communities most impacted by imprisonment. We refuse to play a tokenistic role in the working group. Below are some of our coalition’s guiding points for the proposal created by the City Workgroup to Re-Envision the Jail Replacement Project. This is just one aspect in our shared struggle towards building a future for San Francisco free of the violence of imprisonment and policing. Concrete reforms are necessary to build this future and also improve the conditions for people in prison now. We see these points as offering concrete steps towards ending caging in San Francisco and building stronger resources and more transformative relationships within communities.

Download Flyer 

San Francisco Sheriff Hennessy Rejects BSCC Money for New Jail, Commits to Re-envisioning Justice with help of Community Advocates

SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday Sheriff Vicki Hennessy wrote to the Board of State and Community Corrections to rescind San Francisco’s application for jail funding under SB 863, writing “the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has tasked the Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Public Health, and community mental health and criminal justice stakeholders to convene an effort to explore alternatives that currently preclude building a new detention facility. To seek an extension at this time is not consistent with my intention to participate fully and in good faith in this local process.”

The letter from the Sheriff comes after years of No New SF Jail Coalition community mobilizations against the jail project as well as two hearings on alternatives to jail construction hosted by supportive members of the Board of Supervisors. Even the Sheriff agreed in her letter that “through this process, it has become clear that many in the San Francisco community are not supportive of using this money to replace any jail beds.” The letter makes jail construction under SB 863 funding an impossibility, however inevitably opens up the door for Ventura County to receive the funding.

While the idea that this funding would go to another county is very troubling, community members are optimistic about SF rejecting the funding. Mauricio Najarro, a member of Critical Resistance who has been active in opposing the jail said “we consider it a testament to strong community organizing that the Sheriff would respect the will of the people and reject funding today. We firmly believe that if we can stop a jail in San Francisco we can use and share the lessons we’ve learned to stop jailing everywhere.” Community members are celebrating this as a hard fought victory: for now, there will be no new jail construction in San Francisco.

The Work Group to Re-envision the Jail Replacement Project referred to by Hennessy brings together community advocates and agencies providing mental health needs and reentry services in order to create a plan for closing 850 Bryant and putting resources into community alternatives to jail construction. Their goal is to provide a draft proposal by the end of the summer to be revised and shared with the Board of Supervisors and Mayor in November 2016.

The Work Group’s first meeting was on March 11th, 2016 where over a dozen members of the No New SF Jail Coalition attended and gave public comment. The No New SF Jail Coalition plans to attend future meetings to hold the Work Group accountable to addressing root problems in San Francisco and not building any sort of asylum or locked facility. This was reiterated by Woods Ervin, a member of the Work Group representing the Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project, an SF-based organization that works with people in prison, who demanded, “We want community-based treatment or residential facilities; we do not want more cages in the form of mental health facilities that strip people of their rights and restrict their freedom of movement.”


On February 21st, The No New SF Jail Coalition celebrated our victory against the jail proposal in SF and brought people together to build community momentum for lasting alternatives to imprisonment. Close to 100 people representing organizations and community groups that worked together to stop the jail came together at El Rio in San Francisco, sharing stories of our multi-year campaign against new jail construction in SF.

nojail2.21.16pic2Recognizing the need to work for systemic change in dismantling jails while supporting community members impacted by imprisonment and the racism of policing, we collected over $300 in donations for the family of Mario Woods. You can still donate to Mario Woods’ family. 
On December 15th, 2015 the No New SF Jail Coalition successfully pressured the Board of Supervisors to unanimously vote against building a new jail in San Francisco! This was due to several years of strong organizing demanding community based solutions to the City’s social and economic problems, not more cages.While the No New SF Jail Coalition celebrates our victory, our work continues to ensure that San Francisco invests in real alternatives to imprisonment, and we hold strong to our demand: No Jails in SF, No Jails Anywhere!
  • The Coalition is writing a decarceration plan for SF. Have an idea for community resources instead of cages? We need researchers, social workers, mental health workers, nurses, and you to help with this plan.
  • Members of the Coalition are participating in a City working group to ensure closure of the jail at 850 Bryant. This group will have open meetings and we’ll be calling people out to attend & hold them accountable. Stay tuned!

nojail2.21.16picAre you interested in getting involved in our ongoing work to ensure community based alternatives to imprisonment? Contact us today!

Community to London Breed: Jail Workgroup Must Involve Community Decision-Making and Transparency


Open Letter from No New SF Jails Coalition

January 11, 2016

To:   Board President London Breed

CC: Barbara Garcia, Director of Health, Dept of Public Health and Vicki Hennessy, Sheriff

Dear Board President Breed,

On December 15, 2015, the SF Board of Supervisors took an important step against mass imprisonment policies by voting unanimously to reject state financing to build a new San Francisco jail. Supervisors recognized in their comments that this decision was the result of the determined advocacy of a broad coalition of community forces over two and a half years, including formerly incarcerated, homeless, youth, and transgender people as well as the organizations that represent them. Thank you for standing with the community in this important effort.

Your proposed parallel legislation (File # 151286) convening a working group to recommend a plan for the closure of 850 Bryant and the establishment of corresponding mental health facilities is a strong step towards coming up with solutions to San Francisco’s needs. The No New SF Jails Coalition supports the formation of a working group hosted by the Department of Public Health with participation from community members and organizations as stated in the legislation.  We fundamentally disagree with this working group being co-convened by the Sheriff’s Department and believe the Sheriff must immediately plan to close 850 Bryant but should not lead efforts to determine alternatives to imprisonment. We must ensure that any mental health facilities are diversionary hospitals to serve the needs of their patients, not locked mental health facilities where people are treated as prisoners.

Additionally, we want to ensure that community representation on the group is not tokenistic but truly empowers the input of the communities most impacted by incarceration in San Francisco with decision making powers within the working group.

Toward this goal, we propose the following five guidelines in composition:

  1. A majority of the working group (50%+1) members represent community based organizations including those working with issues such as housing/homelessness, mental health providers/users, and transgender justice
  2. Representatives from organizations working with formerly and currently incarcerated people be prioritized
  3. Representatives of San Francisco’s Black community based organizations, which is disproportionately caged in the SF Jail, be prioritized
  4. The selection process for the working group be transparent
  5. Community representatives have decision making power on this working group, not purely representational presence

In addition to the deadline for the initial report to the Board (March 31st), we propose several measures ensuring public comment and transparency be included in the legislation and the objectives of the working group.

  1. A draft of the initial report be released to the public minimum 2 weeks prior to the presentation at the Board of Supervisors meeting to allow ample time for review, research, and feedback prior to discussion at the Board of Supervisors.
  2. The Board of Supervisors and working group should accept prior written feedback in this two week period as well as provide space for public comment in their first meeting on this issue.
  3. Minutes (including attendance) from working group meetings be made public

The No New SF Jail Coalition appreciates the important step that has been taken by the Board against the building of a new jail.  However, we know this is just a first step. The next steps in this working group must involve true community investment with decision making powers and not merely representation in order to reverse racist policies of imprisonment and criminalization in San Francisco and build a better model moving forward.


Members of the No New SF Jail Coalition


Coalition contact for response to letter or inquries:

Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners (dianablock2046

Lily Fahsi-Haskell, Critical Resistance (lily

Communities claim victory against new SF Jail after two year fight

Press Contacts
Lizzie Buchen, No New SF Jail Coalition,, 510-435-1176
Mohamed Shehk, No New SF Jail Coalition,, 408-910-2618

SAN FRANCISCO – In a powerful public presence, community members and activists opposed to imprisonment celebrated as the Board of Supervisors rejected funding toward a controversial proposal to build a new maximum security jail in San Francisco at the board meeting earlier today. The jail proposal was rejected unanimously.

“We’ve sent a message not just to San Francisco, but to all of California that we will not allow our resources to be squandered on jails that only serve to tear communities apart,” said Lizzie Buchen of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “We urge all counties currently considering jail construction plans to take the lead from San Francisco by saying no to further imprisonment, and to prioritize the alternatives and resources that actually strengthen communities.”

In rejecting the jail proposal, the board decided to send the funding ordinances that would have funded the project back to committees in order to discuss how the money could be used for alternatives to imprisonment.

“This is truly a victory for communities in San Francisco and people fighting jail construction everywhere,” said Lisa Marie Alatorre of SF Coalition on Homelessness. “Through grassroots organizing we put our words into action to make clear that we don’t want jails that are newer and nicer. We want alternatives to imprisonment and permanent affordable housing, for people locked inside to return to their communities. And as we’ve shown today, we will make that happen through our collective strength.”

The SF jail proposal, as with many jails across the country, was deemed necessary by the Sheriff’s Department to improve jail conditions, expand mental health services, increase safety for trans women, and provide substance abuse treatment. “We successfully showed that regardless of how state-of-the-art a jail is designed, it is a fundamentally harmful and violent place, and that community based services and resources are far more effective in getting people the help that they need while reducing recidivism,” says Kamau Walton of Critical Resistance Oakland and Black Lives Matter Bay Area.

“With such an outrageous proportion of the jail population being Black, we reject the notion that Black residents’ only way of accessing resources like mental healthcare is by criminalizing them, arresting them, and locking them away,” Walton said. Jail opponents have consistently noted that while Black people make up just around 4% of San Francisco’s population, they account for over half of those in the county’s jails.

Grassroots opposition to the jail has been spearheaded by the No New SF Jail Coalition, composed of various community organizations including California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Critical Resistance – Oakland, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Communities United Against Violence, SF Coalition on Homelessness, and SF Taxpayers for Public Safety. After the vote, the Coalition is committed to continuing to ensure that the funding is used for community based alternatives and that the supervisors are held accountable to their decision today.

The Coalition will be holding a press teleconference tomorrow at 9am Pacific, 12 pm Eastern to address the press regarding its victory. Press can call in at 712.832.8300, access code 6874160.


Community Activists Shut Down Board Chambers to Demand No New SF Jail

So much has happened in such a short time. This just goes to show that when we use our people power we actually shift our political conditions and realities.

On Wednesday, December 2nd the No New SF Jail Coalition mobilized close to a hundred people to San Francisco City Hall where the Budget and Finance Committee of the Board of Supervisors were attempting to approve the funding for the proposed new jail. The Board of Supervisors knew we were coming and pushed back the jail-related items to the end of the meeting.

After sitting through over an hour of budget and finance they finally read out the agenda items related to the jail. As soon as they finished reading the agenda, organizers in the back of the hearing began chanting and unveiled a banner that read “NO SF JAIL” as 5 organizers in the front of the hearing deployed a lock down. The room erupted with chanting and shouting declaring “No new SF jail” and that we were shutting the hearing down.

Organizers shut down the hearing for over two hours, turning City Hall over to the power of the people. Our demand was simple: this hearing cannot continue; you must stop this jail project now. While our supporters on the Board of Supervisors stood with us and our demands, Conservative Supervisor Mark Farrell insisted that the hearing would not be cancelled.

After 2 hours of shutting it down declaring “House keys not handcuffs,” “Lift us up, don’t lock us up” and urging “Supervisor Tang, do the right thang,” the police issued a dispersal order. All community members left the hearing without arrest except for the 5 freedom fighters locked down in the front of the room. The No New SF Jail 5 held their ground until they were physically cut out of their lock-down with power saws and bolt cutters, forcibly removed and arrested due to the hearing recess and dispersal order requested by Supervisor Mark Farrell.

The hearing continued after the No New SF Jail 5 were arrested. With a stacked public comment and a strong opposition, the hearing clearly showed that a new SF jail would be wasteful, unnecessary and violent at a time when we could invest in viable community alternatives. The hearing ended with a decision to move the issue forward without positive recommendation and delay a vote on the jail funding until December 15 when the full board can hear the options, including newly elected Board of Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

This victory is due to the No New SF Jail Coalition’s and all of our partners powerful organizing and legislative advocacy. With this win we are in an even stronger position to fight the proposed jail!

The No New SF Jail 5 have been released from jail and now know personally that the Hall of (in)Justice at 850 Bryant is indeed decrepit and unsafe. This is why we demand that the 850 Bryant be closed immediately, not rebuilt and that all people currently locked in cages inside be released into their communities.

We are continuing to build power, organize our loved ones, and raise hell until there is No New SF Jail. Now the Board of Supervisors knows that if they continue to ignore our demands that we will make sure that we are heard.

If you have been waiting for a time to get involved in this jail fight – the time has come. Stay tuned for updates, tell your friends and come out strong with us in the next two weeks against the proposed new SF jail. Make calls today.

Mark your calendars to turn out on December 15th at 2pm at the SF Board of Supervisors.

Another San Francisco is possible!

#NoNewSFJail #NoMoreJails #HouseKeysNotHandcuffs #LiftUsUpDontLockUsUp #IBelieveWeWillWin

The People’s Media – Round Up of Photos and Videos from Dec 2nd Board Shut Down

Protesters turn out at hearing for proposed SF jail, force committee to go into recess – The San Francisco Examiner

By Joshua Sabatini on December 2, 2015 1:06 pm

Opponents of San Francisco’s new 384-bed jail proposal turned out Wednesday at the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee meeting, launching a protest inside of City Hall’s board chambers.

A protester displays a sign opposing the building of a new jail facility in San Francisco, during a budget and finance comittee meeting at San Francisco’s city hall Wednesday, December 2, 2015. (Connor Hunt/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Chanting “no vote today” and “affordable housing, not jail cells,” about 100 protesters forced the committee to go into recess just before noon. The protest began immediately after the item was called for discussion.

The protesters stayed in the chambers chanting until 1:30 p.m., when the board room was cleared by deputy sheriffs. Four protesters stayed behind chained together through PVC piping, which supervisors said was a first in their memory.

The Fire Department was called to cut through the tubing and chains. The four protesters were led off in handcuffs by deputy sheriffs.

The meeting resumed shortly after 2:30 p.m. with public commenters kept in an outside room and escorted in three at a time when called by name.

The committee voted at 6 p.m. to send the jail proposal to the full board for a vote on Dec. 15, one week later than was initially expected. Opponents had complained the proposal was being rushed.

Those on both sides of the jail debate agree The City’s existing facilities are in deplorable condition and should shut down. There are 886 beds at the Hall of Justice, known as County Jails No. 3 and No. 4. Currently, only County Jail No. 4 is usable, holding about 400 inmates.

However, opponents say affordable housing and community services are better investments, among other claims. Supporters of the proposal, including Mayor Ed Lee, argue The City will need the additional jail bed capacity.

Adding to the project’s controversy was the issue of when Mayor Lee would sign the election results into law, which he has 10 days to do beginning this Tuesday.

Signing it without delay would ensure District 3 Supervisor–elect Aaron Peskin, a political progressive, could be sworn in before the jail vote, which was initially expected to occur Dec. 8. By moving the vote to Dec. 15, it assures Peskin will be on the board.

Jess Heaney, co–director of Critical Resistance, a group advocating against prisons, said, “We’ve been here for months, actually years, urging you to address and invest in alternatives to caging people.”

“The country is also abuzz with the idea that our largest mental health facilities now are jails, and you are going to build more?” Heaney said. “Do something different. Invest in real health resources.”

Barbara Garcia, director of Department of Public Health, said the department provides $30 million of services in the jail, and that the new facility would provide for improved services.

“Because of all these services that we’ve done keeping people out of jail and getting them back into the community when they leave jail there is only 6 percent of the population in our jail that have severe mental illness,” Garcia said.

District Attorney George Gascon sent a letter to the board opposing the new jail, calling it a “terrible mistake.” Instead, he wants The City to explore alternatives.

“With as many as 40 percent of our in–custody population suffering from some degree of mental illness, it is clear that San Francisco has a mental health treatment problem, not a jail capacity problem,” Gascon said in the letter.

Without the new jail, there would be a maximum of 1,230 total beds in the system. As of Nov. 20, the jail population, which has been in decline, was 1,270, of which 49 percent comprised black people.

Kate Howard, Mayor Lee’s budget director said, “in order for us to not need a jail the population that is currently in jail would have to drop by more than 300 people. It would have to stay there for 40 years. We have never seen that.”

Howard added, “We don’t have another plan. This is our best thinking.”

Supervisor Eric Mar said he opposed the new jail and said The City needs to address the “root causes” not support “a process that is continuing with mass incarceration, especially of African-American and poor people.”

Supervisor Katy Tang, who is supporting the jail, argued that “there is a larger movement behind the arguments” of those opposing the jail, but “some of those arguments really ignore the practical realities if this new facility was not built.”

The jail plan received a boost last month with an announcement by Lee that The City secured an $80 million state grant to build the jail.

The $240 million jail project, planned for next door to the existing facility, increases to $380 million with debt.

On Thursday, the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on alternatives to incarceration.