Despite Budget Shortfall and Overwhelming Support for Defunding the Sheriff, Alameda Supervisors Vote to Increase Funding for Santa Rita Jail
Amid countrywide calls for racial justice and mutual aid, and in the middle of a pandemic, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors votes to fund the deadliest jail in the state of California.
Alameda County, California, June 26th, 2020 On Friday morning, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to pass the county budget and to increase funding to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Santa Rita Jail by $18 million dollars despite widespread calls from labor unions, constituents, and community organizations to invest in community health rather than in punishment. Supervisors Chan and Carson voted against the inclusion of the $18 million and called for the Board of Supervisors to consider alternatives to increased funding to the Sheriff’s office. However, Supervisors Miley, Haggerty, and Valle defied the will of the people and voted for the increase, ultimately moving it forward with a majority vote.
In explaining her dissenting vote, Supervisor Chan, who chairs the county’s Health Committee said, “I believe that the Board has an obligation to look at all alternatives [to increased jail spending]… Why can’t we take the time to have those discussions? If we do, we could have something different. I think we have an obligation to do those best practices.”
Declarations of disappointment in the Board’s decision to fund incarceration rather than community care continued during public comment today, including from many Decarcerate Alameda County members.
Tash Nguyen, a longtime advocate on issues of community safety in the county, remarked: “The Alameda County Labor Council, family members who have lost their children in Santa Rita Jail, and 100 organizations have descended on this Board for months asking you to listen and to pass a moral budget. Not a single person who has spoken on these issues have asked you to rebuild a youth jail or add more funds to the Sheriff, not one. What does this say about you? About your democratic principles? About your leadership? How can you say you care about Black lives, when of the $3.5B you’re passing in this budget, there is not a single dollar in this year’s budget allocated towards expanding diversion or alternatives to incarceration?”
“To hear an African American elected leader like Supervisor Nate Miley invoke Black Lives Matter while voting in favor of funding a Sheriff’s Office that is killing us is a slap in the face to the entire community,” said Cat Brooks, Co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project and Executive Director of Justice Teams Network. “Empty words will not deflect from the fact that today Supervisor Miley turned his back on the people he should be fighting to protect. In the same way we need to defund local police departments, we need the county to defund the torture chamber that is Santa Rita and reinvest in community.”
Decarcerate Alameda County plans to continue pushing for a budget that reflects commitments to justice, healing, and health.
Decarcerate Alameda County, formerly known as the Audit Ahern Coalition, is a growing coalition of organizations and community members joining together to demand that Alameda County free people from Santa Rita Jail, divest from incarceration & policing, and invest in community health, not cops. Learn more at decarceratealameda.org