Urgent: Sign letter opposing Santa Cruz Sheriff Hart’s proposal to create a “trespassing ordinance” around the jail

***Update:

After hundreds of individuals and organizations opposed the ordinance in a letter and in public comments to the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors during their meeting on February 10th, the BoS rewrote the ordinance to be less vague and open to subjective sheriff discretion on areas of trespass. While we urged them to entirely reject the ordinance, the BoS voted unanimously to enact it, but with the following amendments:
- specified the trespass area will not include areas where we do jail support and rallies;
- inclusion of a map of the no trespass area (a fence around the jail that has been hopped once in the past)
- clarification that it will not be used to deny rights of freedom of assembly, expression, and speech.
Two supervisors said they appreciated our testimonies and support our concern with such rights, and one supervisor thanked us for our work at the jail and for our efforts regarding this ordinance.

 

You can sign onto the letter HERE.
Email sinbarras@gmail.com with any questions

The first reading of this proposal is on Tuesday, February 10th at the Board of Supervisors meeting. Please come prepared to make public comments, most likely 2-3 minutes each.

Meeting information:

9am-3pm (end time varies, depending on how long items take — this ordinance is item 6 on the “Regular Agenda”)

@ 701 Ocean St. Rm. #525

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

_____________________________________________________________

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors,

This letter is being sent to you on behalf of Sin Barras, a local grassroots organization dedicated to ending mass incarceration and creating long-lasting alternatives to imprisonment, and the undersigned.

We are deeply concerned by Sheriff Jim Hart and Susan Mauriello’s proposal to adopt a local trespass ordinance “to deter members of the public from entering the grounds of the County correctional facilities that are not open to the general public” (Chapter 10.24). Susan Mauriello is the Santa Cruz County Administrative Officer and chair of the Board of State and Community Corrections Stand Committee on Data and Research, the body that has been funding county jail expansion projects. The language of Hart and Mauriello’s proposal is vague and open-ended, leaving far too much room for subjective decisions that can stifle Constitutionally-protected rights of free speech, assembly, and expression. It is not clear how this ordinance would “add to the preservation of peace and safety at our correctional facilities.” Sheriff Hart only cites one specific incident, and even in this case, it is unclear how an additional ordinance would have improved public safety.

Furthermore, the findings of the recent Grand Jury investigation into ongoing deaths in the local jail is a clear sign that the operation of the jail needs more community engagement, not less. After a year­long investigation of five deaths in the Santa Cruz County Jail, the Grand Jury concluded that “[California Forensic Medical Group] CFMG staff failed to identify and treat symptoms of methadone overdose and had insufficient oversight and treatment facilities for people in the supposedly monitored units.” It made recommendations to improve physical and mental health services in the jail, but nearly all of the research was met with utter denial from the Sheriff’s Department and CFMG, and they were not held accountable. A month after the Sheriff and CFMG’s denial of responsibility, another woman died. This shows that the jail is not an institution of peace and safety, and that community involvement is needed to make it a safer place.

On April 6th, 2013, Sin Barras organized a rally outside the Santa Cruz County Jail that helped catalyze the Grand Jury investigation of the deaths in the jail. On January 24th, 2015, Sin Barras and over 200 community members held a rally at the jail to peacefully protest the preventable deaths inside, and to let those inside know that we care about them and the conditions in which they are incarcerated. In coordination with local, national, and international organizations, the rally demanded that:

  • The Board of Supervisors cancel its contract with California Forensic Medical Group.
  • The Sheriff’s Department and CFMG accept responsibility for the unnatural deaths and implement the Grand Jury recommendations to expand Crisis Intervention Team mental health services.
  • Abolish solitary confinement, administrative segregation and other forms of torture, such as the restraint/torture chair.
  • Santa Cruz County cancel the $24.6 million planned expansion of Rountree Detention Center and invest in community-based social services.

Three days after the rally, Sheriff Hart and Susan Mauriello issued this proposal, which we think was in response to our rally and our ongoing jail support work. Sin Barras goes to the jail weekly to offer support to families and friends visiting people inside. People have consistently expressed appreciation of this effort and the ways that it breaks through the isolation and shame that people sometimes feel having loved ones or friends incarcerated.

Freedom of assembly is a First Amendment right, and a local trespass ordinance “to deter members of the public from entering the grounds of the County correctional facilities” (Chapter 10.24) could be used to deny the public this Constitutional right. As community members it is our responsibility to stand for human and civil rights and hold governing bodies accountable to them.

The Sheriff recently announced an initiative called Prudent Care for Incarcerated Seniors, and said that more could have been done to prevent the death of Sharon Gibbs. We support this approach as a step in the right direction, but also want to see better healthcare and jail conditions for all ages, not only seniors. Community members should be able to be present at the jail for jail support and public assembly to work toward these goals.

In order to maintain safety and stability inside and outside of the jail, an open, transparent, and accessible process of community input and participation is essential. Because the ordinance gives too much discretion to law enforcement to keep people away from the jail and threatens civil rights, we believe it is your responsibility to reject Sheriff Hart and Susan Mauriello’s Chapter 10.24 ordinance.

Signed:

Sin Barras

Organizations:

Critical Race & Ethnic Studies Student Working Group, UC Santa Cruz

Food is Free, Santa Cruz

Food Not Bombs, Santa Cruz

Global Women’s Strike

Idriss Stelley Foundation

Jewish Voice for Peace, Santa Cruz

Palestine Israel-Action Committee, Santa Cruz

Peace & Freedom Party, Santa Cruz

Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community

Redwood Curtain CopWatch

San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper

Queer Strike

UC Santa Cruz Autonomous Students

US PROStitutes Collective

Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike

 

Individuals:

Alexis Kargl, Santa Cruz resident

Alina Fox, Soquel resident

Ana Barrera, Educator, Community Activist, Salinas

Anais Rubio, Santa Cruz resident

Andrés Sandoval, UCSC, Politics & Feminist Studies

Antti Korhonen, Santa Cruz resident

Athena Zouzounis, Santa Cruz resident

Ben Mabie, Santa Cruz resident

Breeann MacDonald, Santa Cruz resident

Courtney Hanson, Santa Cruz resident

Daniella  D’Acquisto, Santa Cruz Resident

Danielle Williamson, Santa Cruz resident

Darell Yeaney, Santa Cruz resident

Debra Ellis, Santa Cruz resident

Dicarlos Davis, Stanford student

Dorah Shuey, Santa Cruz resident

Emma Lee, Santa Cruz resident

Esme Bitticks, Santa Cruz resident

Ethan Pezzolo, Santa Cruz resident

Frank Alvarado Sr., Latinos United, Salinas

Grant Palmer, Soquel resident

Guadalupe Barboza, Santa Cruz, resident

Harold Hardin, UCSC, Sociology and Critical Race/Ethnic Studies

Holly Mayer, Aptos resident

James Braggs, Educator

Jameson Rush, Santa Cruz resident

Jeb Purucker, Santa Cruz resident

Jessica Taft, Santa Cruz resident, UC Santa Cruz professor

Jessica Espinoza, Soquel resident

Julia Balibrera, Food Not Bombs organizer

Kyle Czimback, Santa Cruz resident, UCSC – Psych & Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.

Leslie Potenzo, Santa Cruz resident

Lesley-Reid Harrison, Santa Cruz resident

Lisa Curran, Santa Cruz resident

Lori Avina-Korhonen, Santa Cruz resident

Mark Shunney, Santa Cruz resident

Maureen Smith, Chairperson of the County Central Committee, Peace and Freedom Party

Mary Ratcliff, Editor, San Francisco Bay View National Newspaper

Mariela Padilla, Santa Cruz resident

Michaella Borges, Santa Cruz resident

Michelle Glowa, Santa Cruz resident

Mickey McConnell, Santa Cruz resident

Molly Meadows, Food is Free, Santa Cruz

Mysia Anderson, Stanford resident

Nathaniel Matthews-Trigg, UCSC Alumni

Nayeli Gil, Watsonville resident

Nykki Milano, Santa Cruz resident

Paul Spector, Registered Nurse

Paula LeRoy, Aptos resident

Rebecca Ruiz Sunwoo

Rabbi Borukh Goldberg, Santa Cruz resident

Robert Norse, Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom

Samuel Tindell, Santa Cruz resident

Sandra Harvey, Santa Cruz resident

Sheila Carrillo, Santa Cruz resident

Stewart Isaacs, Stanford resident

Sue Yeaney, Santa Cruz Resident

Tash Nguyen, Santa Cruz resident

Trio Harris, Santa Cruz resident

Willow Katz, Santa Cruz resident

Zach Gentry, Santa Cruz resident

Yadira Diaz-Ramirez, Santa Cruz resident

Yvonne P. Sherwood, Santa Cruz resident

 

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willow-katz-santa-cruz-county-jail_1-24-15

SF Bayview: Review of the Cages Kill Freedom Rally

SF Bayview Article (link) by Courtney Hanson & Willow Katz

On Jan. 24, a warm and sunny Saturday, a mixed race crowd of over 200 elders, students and some children – women, men, and transgender; straight and LGBTIQ – gathered at the Clock Tower in downtown Santa Cruz for the Cages Kill-Freedom Rally. In addition to Santa Cruzans, people came from Monterey, Salinas and the SF Bay Area. (more…)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHAT: Cages Kill! — Freedom Rally & March

WHEN: Saturday, January 24th @ 12 Noon

WHERE: Noon at the Clocktower, Downtown Santa Cruz (Water St. & Pacific Ave.)

Contact: sinbarras@gmail.com

Tash Nguyen 408.499.7912

Courtney Hanson 916.316.0625

SANTA CRUZ, CA—

At least 6 people have died in the Santa Cruz County Jail since August 2012 while in the hands of the Sheriff’s Department and California Forensics Medical Group (CFMG). In light of the most recent death in November, Sin Barras is organizing a demonstration this Saturday, co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Community Coalition to Overcome Racism (SCCCCOR), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and Project: Pollinate. Sin Barras states that the purpose of the protest is to raise awareness around the deaths, to highlight the broader context of overcrowding and lack of healthcare inside California jails and prisons, and create a space for community empowerment. As an abolitionist organization, Sin Barras seeks reforms that fit into a larger project of halting jail expansion across the state of California and investing in community-based alternatives.

After a year-long investigation of these deaths, prompted by public criticism and concern, the Santa Cruz Grand Jury released a report including recommendations to improve physical and mental health conditions in the jail. One of the Grand Jury’s conclusions was that CFMG staff failed to identify and treat symptoms of methadone overdose, and had insufficient oversight and treatment facilities for people in the supposedly monitored units. The Sheriff’s Department and CFMG have publicly disagreed with almost all the findings of the report, and since then, another person has died.

In coordination with local, national, and international organizations, Sin Barras is mobilizing to demand that:

1. The Board of Supervisors cancel its contract with California Forensic Medical Group.

2. The Sheriff’s Department and CFMG accept responsibility for the unnatural deaths and implement the Grand Jury recommendations to expand Crisis Intervention Team mental health services.

3. Solitary confinement/administrative segregation and other forms of torture, such as the “restraint chair,” be abolished.

4. The County cancel the $24.6 million planned expansion of Rountree Detention Center and invest in community-based social services.

Sin Barras and their allies, including formerly incarcerated people and people who have lost loved ones inside the jail, argue that Santa Cruz needs to step up its efforts to expand alternatives to incarceration. The County should immediately cease its use of torture in the jail, particularly the practice of solitary confinement and use of the “restraint chair.” Paul Spector, RN and former employee of the California Department of Corrections, states that while manufacturer instructions say the chair is “not to be used for punishment… it’s only use is punishment, and sometimes death.”

At the rally, speakers will share personal stories that shed light on the violence of the prison system and strategies for building alternative forms of justice, including Fox Sloan, mother of Amanda Fox Sloan, who died in the jail July of 2013.

“Once our loved ones are incarcerated, we are shoved out of the picture, and our concern and care becomes irrelevant and annoying to those operating the jail. The jail as it is, is woefully ill-equipped to provide the care each individual needs. Many people need help and healing, options and avenues for restoration to a peaceful and positive life–not punishment for situations beyond their control, where they have suffered and are trying to survive,” said Sloan.

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freedomrally

Cages Kill! Freedom Rally!

 January 24, 2015 | Noon at the Santa Cruz Downtown Clock Tower

Update 1/15: Check out Willow Katz and Courtney Hanson of Sin Barras on the national Sojourner Truth radio show this morning discussing jail deaths and the upcoming Cages Kill demonstration!

At least 6 people have died in the county jail while in the hands of the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department and California Forensics Medical Group (CFMG) since August 2012. In April 2013, Sin Barras organized a historic march and speakout, highlighting sheriff violence faced by people inside the County Jail that inspired the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury to investigate the jail’s deadly conditions. The grand jury report named the April 6th demonstration as a primary catalyst for the investigation. In September 2014, the Grand Jury released its Final Report, which included recommendations to improve physical and mental health services in the jail. Nearly all of the research was met with utter denial from the Sheriff‘s Department and CFMG, continuing a trend of disrespect for the community and confirming that they operate with little to no accountability.

Sin Barras is organizing a demonstration on January 24th to demand immediate medical and safety measures be met to reduce harm faced by those presently incarcerated. We demand that the County Board of Supervisors cancel its contract with CFMG and refuse to participate in the current wave of county jail expansion. These deaths are an act of collective punishment against people who are most in need of aid, and who are consistently denied community-based resources and drug treatment. While we fight for immediate solutions, we do so with a commitment to dismantling the prison system once and for all, brick by brick, wall by wall. The deaths in the jail are caused by the same pattern of unaccountability that recently allowed Officer Darren Wilson to walk free after killing Michael Brown. From Ferguson to Santa Cruz, it is clear that our criminal justice system targets the most vulnerable members of this society: women, trans and queer people, people of color, people with disabilities, the poor, and the homeless. Without overwhelming pressure from our communities, this pattern will continue. “The ideas which can and will sustain our movement for total freedom and dignity of the people cannot be imprisoned, for they are to be found in the people, all the people, wherever they are.” – Huey P. Newton Updates will be ongoing // here’s what you can do right now: – Write a letter of solidarity with your organization

  • Distribute through your networks & email to: sinbarras@gmail.com

– Spread the word on Facebook! – Co-sponsor the action & attend planning meetings!

  • For meeting time and location, email: sinbarras@gmail.com

_________________________________________________________________

Co-sponsored by: Sin Barras, Santa Cruz County Community Coalition to Overcome Racism (SCCCCOR), Project Pollinate, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Santa Cruz

Endorsed by: Abolitionist Law Center, Pittsburgh, PA; Bettina Aptheker, UCSC, for purposes of identification; Cabrillo College Justice League; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; California Families Against Solitary Confinement; Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB); Direct Action Monterey Network; Family of Frank Alvarado Jr., killed by Salinas Police, July 10, 2014; Food Not Bombs; Freedom Archives; Global Women’s Strike and Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike; Haiti Action Committee; Human Rights Coalition (HRC)-Fed Up!, Pittsburgh, PA; International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ); Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign, Pittsburgh, PA; Justice for Palestinians; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; George Lippman, Vice-Chair, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, for purposes of identification; the MOVE Organization and Ramona Africa; National Boricua Human Rights Network; Dylcia Pagán, former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner held in US prison; Payday Men’s Network; Peak Women; Prison Activist Resource Center (PARC); Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSSC); Rabbi Borukh Goldberg; San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper; South Bay/Santa Cruz Facilitators group of the Pachamama Alliance; Queer Strike; Suppressed Histories Archives (Max Dashu); Bato Talamantez; US PROStitutes Collective; Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, All of Us or None, Payday Men’s Network, Darlene Wallach; Donna Wallach.

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A Testament to the Deep Fragmentation

Written for Viewpoint Magazine, October 2014

Sin Bar­ras is a prison abo­li­tion group based in Santa Cruz, Cal­i­for­nia. We are not a reg­is­tered non-profit, receive no gov­ern­ment or foun­da­tion fund­ing, and are unstaffed. We say this imme­di­ately because we are orga­niz­ing in a moment of neolib­eral non-profits and con­stant co-optation, so “grass­roots” does not get the point across.

We are cel­e­brat­ing a recent vic­tory that has improved med­ical con­di­tions and treat­ment inside the Santa Cruz County Main Jail. Our cel­e­bra­tion is not an end­point, but a moment of re-invigorated energy, which we are using to reflect on our strate­gies and learn our next steps. We are try­ing to hold sys­tems of incred­i­ble vio­lence account­able and at the same time are work­ing to ren­der them obso­lete. But one clear take­away is that a mil­i­tantand community-oriented direct action led to a year-long grand jury inves­ti­ga­tion of the inhu­mane con­di­tions in our local jail. Of course the work con­tin­ues, because we know deeply that the jail itself is inhumane. (more…)

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Ni Una Muerte Más, Justice For Frank Alvarado Jr. & All Killed By Salinas Police Department

Statement read at Salinas demonstration August 17th, 2014

Sin Barras (Spanish for “Without Prison Bars”) is a Santa Cruz grassroots organization to abolish prisons and support prisoners’ rights and struggles, part of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB).

Frank Alvarado Jr., murdered by the Salinas Police Department on July 10, was a member of Sin Barras. We met him in April in Watsonville, at the annual Walk to Stop the Silence against childhood sexual abuse. He signed a petition to stop jail and prison expansion and a letter to stop retaliation against CA Prisoner Hunger Strikers who are fighting the torture of long-term solitary confinement and for better conditions. He talked about having been locked up for eleven years and getting out and working to heal from prison trauma. The next week he joined us, spoke openly about his experiences inside and outside of prison, and worked for healing, resources, and rights for Formerly Incarcerated Persons. He took great joy in encouraging and helping everyone he met. (more…)