Decarcerate Sacramento Releases Response Strongly Criticizing Sacramento Jail Expansion

By Citlalli Florez 

SACRAMENTO, CA – Incarceration opponent Decarcerate Sacramento Thursday released a Twitter statement strongly opposing Sacramento County’s decision to expand its downtown jail, rather than seek alternatives suggested by the community.

Decarcerate Sacramento is a coalition created to stop jail expansion, reduce jail populations and to shift funding toward human services.

According to the coalition in the Twitter announcement, more than 140 people commented about the county supervisors’ decision and 1,600 individuals signed a petition in opposition to the expansion. More than 70 organizations, business professionals and health professionals also signed a letter against the construction of a new jail building.

The coalition thanked everyone who took part in the campaign. “We thank everyone who joined this historic campaign on December 7, 2022, especially people inside Sacramento County jails and their loved ones.”

Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the plans earlier this month to build an annex of the downtown jail. Two supervisors who voted against the expansion were Supervisors Don Nottoli and Phil Serna. The three who voted in favor were Supervisors Rich Desmond, Sue Frost, and Patrick Kennedy.

The expansion is expected to cost approximately $450 million initially from the General Fund, and to cost more than $3 billion from taxpayers. These costs would cover staffing, operations, maintenance and loan interest costs.

“This loss feels devastating to our community. We understand that prioritizing our public spending on healthcare and housing will accomplish far more toward public health and community safety than building a more expansive jail system ever could,” said the coalition.

Decarcerate Sacramento charged the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors claimed to base the decision on a lawsuit known as Mays v. County of Sacramento, meant to address “dangerous” living conditions inside the jail, This includes the failure of jail staff to follow patient privacy laws and the lack of accessible facilities for disabled people.

The coalition stated that “the leadership in Sacramento County made this decision without adequately considering alternatives to building a larger jail facility.” Leadership, said the coalition, was dead set on building a bigger jail without considering alternatives suggested by the coalition and others.

The coalition said the county didn’t seek an unbiased architectural peer review to help determine if meeting legal obligation without construction was possible.

The county instead, said the coalition, funded and followed the opinion of an architecture firm which had already built the present downtown jail. The firm also continues to profit from an expansion project, added the coalition, noting the board ignored critical questions and recommendations from community members and industry experts.

Toward the end of the Twitter statement, Decarcerate Sacramento argued prioritizing public spending on human services such as healthcare and housing will lead to better public health and community safety.

Decarcerate Sacramento concluded, “New opportunities will emerge to prevent this jail expansion and redirect funds towards reducing incarceration and preventing harm. We hope you will continue to fight with us. For now, we encourage everyone to rest and care for each other. Our work is far from over.”

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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