Follow the Money: Invisible Investors Seek Big Bucks in Mass Incarceration

Wednesday, 08 April 2015 By James Kilgore and Brian Dolinar, Truthout | News Analysis

When authorities booked Richard Murphy into the jail in Monterey, California, on January 18, 2013, the war veteran likely never envisioned ending up being back in court months later, not to face criminal charges, but to expose the abuse he would suffer at the hands of the jail’s private health-care provider.

His saga began when he complained to guards about his injured back. Before his arrest he managed the pain with prescribed medication and regular cortisone shots, neither of which he could get in jail. Despite his repeated pleas, it took several months to get even a cane. During this time, he could not get out of bed without serious pain, and his condition worsened.


For Immediate Release – March 23, 2015

West Cliff Candlelight Vigil Protests

Use of Solitary Confinement in Santa Cruz

Monthly Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement begin

When:  Tonight: Monday, March 23, 2015 – and the 23rd of each month thereafter.

Time: Gather at 5:30, Rally at 6pm, Candlelight Vigil 7-7:30

What:  Candlelight vigil on the cliffs along with rally and mock solitary confinement cell in mobilization to end solitary confinement. A response to a proposal from prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison involved in the 2011 and 2013 Hunger Strikes, to name a day each month as Prisoner’s Rights Day. Monday, March 23 will mark the first, and future actions will be held on the 23rd of each month, with the 23rd symbolizing the 23 hours per day prisoners in solitary are held in the complete isolation of their cells.

Where: West Cliff Drive, Lighthouse Lawn

Who: The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) and Sin Barras.

Why: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), including both Santa Cruz’s youth and adult divisions, refuse to respect basic human rights by continuing to keep people isolated in cages and concrete cells.  Statewide this often lasts for years upon years, despite international condemnation calling on California to end its practice of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement has been defined as torture by the U.N., yet the U.S. puts more people in solitary and for longer periods than any other country. California continues to use the practice in violation of international law and in violation of the US policy against cruel and unusual punishment. We seek to build organized, community-based pressure outside prison walls, and to amplify the demands of prisoners who continue to call for the end of torture.

For more information, please contact Courtney Hanson from Sin Barras in Santa Cruz 916-316-0625. For statewide information talk with Mohamed Shehk at 510.444.0484. Shehk is the Media and Communications Director at Critical Resistance, a member organization of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. You can also visit https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com to learn more.


Please join us here in Santa Cruz Friday and Saturday for an incredible two-day event. Two members of Sin Barras, Nykki Milano and Courtney Hanson, will be featured on the panel, along with so many incredibly inspiring and dedicated organizers. We hope to see you there. Spread the word on Facebook!

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


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


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…)


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


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.



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.