For Immediate Release – Tuesday, April 14, 2020
No New SF Jail Coalition Rallies Behind Fewer, Urging Other Leaders to Sign On
Mohamed Shehk – 408.910.2618 – firstname.lastname@example.org
No New SF Jail Coalition
San Francisco – In line with longstanding community efforts, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer will be introducing an ordinance at the Board of Supervisors meeting today Tuesday, April 14 that would close the dilapidated building Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St, including the permanent closure of County Jail #4. Supervisors Matt Haney, Hillary Ronen, Shamann Walton, and Dean Preston have endorsed the legislation.
“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.” said Daniel Mendoza of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, himself imprisoned at the 850 Bryant St. jail. “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.”
The ordinance calls on the city to close down 850 Bryant St and County Jail #4 without replacing it, creating more jail space, or sending currently imprisoned people to an out-of-county facility like Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County.
“This is an opportunity for San Francisco to advance real solutions for community health. While Mayor Breed and the Sheriff have previously entertained plans to send people across the bay to Santa Rita jail as a false solution to closing the 850 Bryant jail, our current COVID-19 crisis makes it perfectly clear that both institutions are public health nightmares,” said Amber Akemi Piatt, Health Instead of Punishment Program Director at Human Impact Partners, who is fighting for releases from Santa Rita Jail where COVID-19 cases are currently 14 times higher than the rest of the Alameda County.
San Francisco officials had previously identified that a overall jail population of between 1,064 to 1,126 would warrant the closure of County Jail #4. On March 17, 2020 – before COVID-19 jail releases were in full swing – the jail population was 1,042. As of April 13, 2020, the jail population has dropped to 770.
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.
On Wednesday, April 15th, the No New SF Jail Coalition will be calling on communities to participate in a creative digital action encouraging San Francisco decision makers to sign on and support Fewer’s jail closure legislation.
Spokespeople with the No New SF Jail Coalition are available to speak with the press.