Santa Rita Jail at risk for COVID19 Catastrophe - We Can Prevent It Now

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We the people of faith and others in Alameda County feel the utmost concern for all of the people in our community.  In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic we want to see everything possible done to protect our loved ones - from the County staff to the most vulnerable people on the streets and in the Jail to those of us who can shelter in our homes.  No one is completely safe, and the prospect of an uncontrolled outbreak is horrifying. We call upon all public officials to work together and do everything possible to mitigate a potential outbreak in Santa Rita and ensure adequate care for anyone who in infected with the virus. We support the following critical steps – some of which you are implementing at this time - with our prayers:

The fewer people in Santa Rita, the safer it is for everyone. Therefore:
We urge municipal, BART and other police, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Alameda County District Attorney, and Superior Court to stop sending people to Santa Rita Jail – with only the most extreme exceptions. Do not arrest people for misdemeanors, non-violent felonies, or non-criminal probation or parole violations.
We urge the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Alameda County District Attorney to release people who are only in jail because they could not pay bail, and those who are over 50, have medical conditions which make them particularly vulnerable to the virus, are within six months of release, and those who are being held for misdemeanors, non-serious felonies, probation violations, or failures to appear.
We urge the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Alameda County Health Officer, and Alameda County Health Care Services Agency to immediately and publicly issue robust plans to:

a.   Strengthen hygiene throughout the jail.

b.   Care for anyone in Santa Rita Jail who becomes infected with COVID-19. There must be one medically appropriate standard of care for all people in our community. Avoid "quarantine" through reliance on solitary confinement, inhumane food service, lack of access to showers, and other basic services.  During this period all prisoners denied family and legal visits should have unlimited phone and video visits at no charge. This policy should apply especially to quarantined prisoners.

c.    Protect all residents and employees from virus transmission.

3.   We urge the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, municipal governments, Alameda County Housing and Community Development Department, and Alameda County Social Services Agency to provide people who are departing Santa Rita Jail with adequate health care and a safe place to “shelter in place.”