Campaign Updates

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!
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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.

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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:

#ShutDown850 Report Card for District Attorney Chesa Boudin

Earlier this year, New SF Jail Coalition released its first District Attorney and jail population Report Card. With Chesa Boudin serving as the new District Attorney, the Report Card tracks his progress in his first month in office toward fulfilling his promise to reduce the city’s jail population and closing 850 Bryant St.

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The Report Card details how many people the new DA is arraigning on felony charges, and how many of those people are being held pretrial rather than released. The coalition is also tracking changes in the number of people being held at 850 Bryant St., as well as the trends in the overall county jail population. Additionally, Boudin’s office recently announced the end of seeking “cash bail,” and the Report Card will more accurately assess the DA’s promises to scale back the use of pretrial detention.

Read our full press release on the Report Card here.

 

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.

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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! 

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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.

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