Sin Barras

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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Grand jury investigation into county jail deaths reveals troubling trends

Our victory is in the news!

Hard Cell
BY Aric Sleeper, GoodTimes
June 10, 2014

Before Christy Sanders was booked into Santa Cruz Main Jail, she complained of severe pain in the left side of her body, and was sent to the emergency room at Dominican Hospital. There she received a medical examination and an X-ray, but the ER staff did not see anything immediately wrong. They logged their diagnosis into a medical record database, which is shared with the medical staff at the jail. The incident was detailed in a recent grand jury report that investigated Sanders’ death, and those of four others at the county jail.

Deputies had arrested Sanders, a 27-year-old Felton resident, on August 12, 2012, for failing to appear in court on charges of petty theft. The next day, Sanders received medical screenings in the jail, where she declined treatment, including medicine for opiate detoxification. Later that afternoon, she said she was still experiencing chest pain, and saw the jail doctor, who did not find any serious medical issues and sent her back to her cell.

That same day, a Dominican Hospital radiologist revised Sanders’ diagnosis, and noted in the record database that her condition warranted a “close follow-up,” but the information went unnoticed by the jail’s medical staff, and Sanders’ health continued to worsen.

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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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Stop sending our loved ones to other counties!

Assembly member Mark Stone of Santa Cruz and Monterey has recently introduced a policy that would allow counties to continue to transfer prisons to other county jails. Since we heard the news, we have been working with local organizations in the Monterey Bay area to let the Assemblymember and the Legislature know that we do NOT support the coerced transfer of prisoners far away from their families.

This kind of forced transfer of prisoners is another deceptive form of jail expansion and puts an unfair strain on families, disintegrating the support structures that are integral to rehabilitation.

Sin Barras has met with Stone and delivered 200 petition signatures opposing the bill, asking for the implementation of SUSTAINABLE solutions to jail overcrowding, such as lowering of the bail schedule, increasing pretrial services, and increasing the use of split sentencing. As a resident of Assemblymembers Stone’s district, we hope you join us in opposing this policy by adding your signature today!