Oakland City Council Passes Resolution Calling for Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Audit

Press Contact: Terence Long, terence@ellabakercenter.org, 510-936-0344

Oakland City Council Passes Resolution Calling for Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Audit 

The legislation follows calls by Senator Nancy Skinner, Berkeley City Council and community advocates for greater oversight of the Sheriff’s Office

Oakland - On Tuesday, May 21, Oakland City Council passed a resolution authored by Oakland D-2 City Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas in support of a full and transparent audit of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. 

“This is a critical time of development and growth for our city, and the region at-large, and our investments should be made in systems which inclusively and equitably build communities up,” said Councilmember Bas. “An audit could reveal savings at a time when we need more funding for our public schools, parks, infrastructure, public health and affordable housing.”

"The health injustices occurring in Alameda County jails are horrifying — from people being served food contaminated with rat feces to forcing a pregnant person to give birth in solitary confinement to people literally dying. Our elected officials have a duty to protect the safety, dignity, and health of all people in the county. We need a full performance and fiscal audit to understand the full breadth and depth of what is happening so that we can move toward solutions together," said Amber Akemi Piatt, Health Instead of Punishment Program Director at Human Impact Partners.

Although the jail population has decreased over the past decade, the Board of Supervisors has increased the sheriff’s budget by $144 million, according to data from the Ella Baker Center. 

Oakland City Council joins a growing community movement calling for greater accountability and transparency around Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern amidst budget shortfalls, civil lawsuits and allegations of human rights violations by individuals incarcerated at Santa Rita jail.  

ACSO scandals and accusations of misconduct continue to mount, including a class action lawsuit for widespread sleep deprivation of people incarcerated in Alameda jails, 35 in-custody deaths, the illegal recording of juveniles and their attorneys, and 29 civil suits by women alleging abuse and mistreatment, including a pregnant mother who was forced to give birth alone in a dirty cell while guards ignored her screams, as well as several reports of forced abortions.

Said Jose Bernal of the Ella Baker Center, “We’ve been calling for an audit since November of 2017. This is transparency, this is accountability. This is a powerful symbolic resolution from the Oakland City Council. This tells the county, this tells the state, this tells the country what values matter most in Oakland. It is egregious and absolutely heartbreaking to know that since 2014, 35 in-custody deaths have happened. This sheriff’s department thinks they can continue to be unaccountable — and that needs to be checked.”

At the same hearing, councilmembers voted on whether to extend the Rent Stabilization Ordinance to thousands of renters in duplex and triplexes in Oakland who aren’t currently protected by rent control laws. 

“City Council must endorse an audit of the racist, abusive policies and corrupt budget of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and act to close loopholes in Oakland’s tenant protections,” said Kitzia Esteva-Martinez, Co-director of Community Rights at Causa Justa::Just Cause. 

Closing the rent stabilization loophole for owner-occupied 2-3 unit buildings would immediately protect more than 5,000 tenants already living in owner-occupied duplexes or triplex buildings by stabilizing their rents and preserve the affordability of approximately 11,000 additional units vulnerable to losing these protections because of an owner move-in.