Abolition

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 mil­i­tant and 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.

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An Open Letter to the Organizers of “Police Legitimacy in Communities of Color” at the Monterey Institute of International Studies

To Dr. Pushpa Iyer, Professor Edward Laurance and anyone else it may concern:

On October 9th, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin is scheduled to speak on a panel titled “Police Legitimacy in Communities of Color” presented by the Center for Conflict Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Under Chief McMillin’s command, four unarmed Salinas community members — all Latino men — were shot and killed by officers in a span of four months. Between March and July of 2014, Salinas police officers shot and murdered Angel Ruiz, Carlos Mejia, Osman Hernandez, and our dear friend and activist Frank Alvarado. Mejia and Hernandez were allegedly shot because officers felt threatened by work tools that they were carrying. Ruiz had a pellet gun, and Alvarado had a cell phone.

We believe it is unethical and disrespectful to give Chief McMillin such a privileged voice in a space that is uncritical of his department’s policies and the violence he has continually justified. None of the community activists, family and friends of the murdered men were invited to present on the panel and likely view the space as hostile — given that they would have had to sit across from the person ultimately responsible for these deaths.

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Sin Barras Proposes Alternatives to Jail Expansion

City on a Hill Press – May 22, 2014 by Aron Garst

California already spends more than 60,000 on each inmate while only spending 9,200 on each K-12 student, and to add to that Jerry Brown is adding $500 million to the states budget to expand county jails.

Last week, organized protests took place across the state in San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento in a coordinated effort to halt Gov. Brown’s revised May budget. Protesters from the coalition Californians Reunited for a Responsible Budget (CURB) gathered outside the Santa Cruz County’s Superior Courthouse last Wednesday to stand against California’s proposed budget.

“It’s really illuminating to see where the state’s priorities are,” said community organizer Tash Nguyen. “We’re in a place where we really need to follow the money to see how lawmakers are addressing our issues. Clearly they’re not.”

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Report blasts Main Jail over inmate deaths

We’ve won! Community organizing works!

Santa Cruz Sentinel – May 21, 2014: Report blasts Main Jail over inmate deaths by Jason Hoppin

A Santa Cruz County civil grand jury on Wednesday issued a scathing report into a slate of Main Jail inmate deaths during an 11-month period, saying most were preventable.

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Sin Barras Comic: Bigger Jail, No Strings Attached?

Our very own Noah Miska made another comic!

Now it’s your turn–tell our Supervisors that Santa Cruz doesn’t want $24 million to build a bigger jail! Our County should not be investing more resources in a system that targets poor families and families of color.

Sin Barras Comic: Bigger Jail, No Strings Attached?

Let’s uplift our community by taking action and spreading the word!