Woman inside Santa Cruz County Jail responds to Chief Deputy Wilson

*The woman who wrote this letter has been held in the county jail since June 2014 without trial. She is currently represented by a public defender, and desperately needs a civil rights attorney to help her fight her case effectively. If you have any leads, please email sinbarras@gmail.com as soon as possible.

(See Chief Wilson’s article here: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/20150502/craig-wilson-jail-officers-jobs-increasingly-complex)


May 7th, 2015

“I am a pretrial inmate responding to Chief Deputy Craig Wilson’s praise of this jail.

Many staff here do handle immature, abusive, violent, manipulative behavior from inmates with industry, integrity, and compassion, serving people who are often in crisis. However, this system has the same flaws as law enforcement in general. Great autonomy without transparency leads to lack of accountability. Inhumane treatment is an inevitable result. Lazy people taking advantage of secure government employment and those who enjoy exercising power over others use their positions here to capriciously neglect or abuse those in their care, creating problems and extra work for dedicated staff members.

The current centuries-old custody paradigm often rewards bad behavior by both inmates and staff. Innovative new approaches incorporating transparency and accountability to reward good behavior by both inmates and staff could result in a truly humane system and decreased crime rates. It’s worth trying.”

Come dine ​with Sin Barras over yummy pizza and beer at Pizza My Heart​ on​ Tuesday May 26th from 4-9pm!

30% of Pizza My Heart’s proceeds will benefit​ ​our organization​ and we’ll be there alll night. You can choose to dine in, take out, or order delivery. ​*​All you have to do is mention that you’re supporting $in Barras when you order.​*​ ​​Since we are not a registered non-profit, receive no government or foundation funding, and are unstaffed​, ​we rely on grassroots fundraising to sustain our work.​ ​​So please turn up and help us spread the word​!​ ​L​et’s affirm our ongoing fight to end the caging of our communities​, ​​I hope to see you there.

Share our facebook event – https://www.facebook.com/events/857544047658644/​

If you would like to give, but can’t make the fundraiser you can donate here.


No New Fence Around the Jail! — Pack the Board of Supes


What you can do:
– Pack the room on Tuesday! (this item is #22, so will likely be heard late morning/early afternoon; the earlier you can come, the better)

– Write a letter of concern/opposition to the Board of Supervisors (you can email each of them through their webpage: http://www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/Government/BoardofSupervisors.aspx)

– Spread the word! (these things can be influenced with enough community involvement) -> Facebook event here.

The Sheriff’s Written Proposal:

Dear Board of Supervisors,

Today, April 17th, we learned that Sheriff Jim Hart is proposing to build a seven-foot tall, 364-foot long gated iron fence around the Santa Cruz County Main Jail parking lot, which would cost $47,925 to complete. This proposal will be on the agenda this Tuesday, April 21st. The parking lot where the fence would be built is an area that has been used in the past by community members for public assembly and political demonstrations.

We are deeply concerned by Sheriff Jim Hart’s proposal for a few reasons. For one, $47,925 is a large amount of taxpayer dollars to spend restricting First Amendment rights. The intention behind demonstrations like those cited by Hart have been held to let inmates know that community members outside care about their well-being and their conditions of incarceration. The few noise demonstrations that have occurred in the past few years were minor disruptions and to our knowledge have never threatened the security of the jail or those inside of it. Community members, specifically those formerly incarcerated, have consistently expressed appreciation of this effort and the ways that it breaks through the isolation and shame that can arise from imprisonment.

We feel this fence proposal is an extension of the trespassing ordinance (Chapter 10.24) that was passed on February 10th, 2015. During that time, we expressed concerns through public comment, a widely-signed petition, and letters sent to Board members. Our concerns were addressed when the Board asked the Sheriff to specify that the ordinance did not intend to stifle free speech and the freedom to assemble, and only concerned the area of the jail already fenced off. Our collective concerns that were validated at that meeting are resurfacing with this proposal.

Freedom of assembly is a First Amendment right and if the proposed fence were to be constructed, it would not deter activists from assembling in that area. Providing for the physical and mental health of inmates and available educational resources should be the Sheriff’s top public-safety priority.

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 fence would be ineffective in its stated purpose, we encourage the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors to prioritize spending $47,925 on long-term solutions to challenges faced by our criminal justice system, such as the Prudent Care for Incarcerated Seniors program. We urge you to reject the Fencing Project and encourage more community dialogue around concerns Sheriff Hart may have regarding protests.

Thank you for your consideration,

Members of Sin Barras
Tash Nguyen
Courtney Hanson
Leslie Potenzo

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