March 6, 2023

Press Contacts:

Ashley Chambers, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights,, 510-285-8227

Cat Brooks, Anti Police-Terror Project Executive Director,, (510) 506-2341

Joshua Stickney, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, 

Civil Rights Groups Heartbroken and Enraged at Fourth Life Lost at Santa Rita Jail in Six weeks

“The death of Cody and three others in six weeks alone tells us that nothing has changed.”

Oakland, CA—Alongside Alameda County civil rights organizations, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Oakland Rising, Urban Peace Movement, Human Impact Partners (HIP), Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), and TGI Justice Project (TGIJP) issued the following statement after the death of Cody Vanburen, the 4th person to die while in custody of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in the past six weeks:

“We are heartbroken and enraged to hear of yet another death related to Santa Rita Jail (SRJ), the deadliest place in Alameda County. For years, advocates have called out the level of abuse, neglect, death, and cruel punishment inside Santa Rita Jail. We have stood alongside families who have lost loved ones at the hands of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) and called for transparency, diversion, and accountability — yet these calls have been met with inaction.

“The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has refused to take action to hold the ACSO accountable while over 60 people have lost their lives while in Sheriff’s custody over the past 9 years, including Dujuan Armstrong, Christian Madrigal, Raymond Reyes, and Nick Piña. Instead of putting resources into community-based alternatives like mental health programs, the settlement in Babu v. Ahern only increased funding for a jail that is rife with negligence and corruption. Alameda County voters hoped the election of Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez would bring meaningful change to SRJ, but the death of Cody and three others in six weeks alone tells us that nothing has changed.

“We know, and it has been proven, that throwing more money and resources at Santa Rita Jail and ACSO is not a solution. The only solution is to significantly decrease the jail population, divest from the ACSO and SRJ, and put those resources back into the community. People deserve to be met with social services, affirming care, and support.

“The death of Cody is particularly heartwrenching, as he was coming home and on his way out of Alameda County’s murderous carceral system. Enough is enough. 

“In 2018, beloved community member Dujuan Armstrong was asphyxiated by sheriff deputies. Since then, Dujuan’s mother, Barbara Doss has been demanding accountability from the jail and the sheriff’s office. As new District Attorney Pamela Price opens the case in the death of Vinetta Martin in Santa Rita, lives continue to be lost. We need to come to terms with the fact that Santa Rita Jail must be shut down and replaced with a system of transformative justice that takes everyone’s humanity into account. #FreeSRJ