Civil Rights Groups Call for Closing of Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail After Another Person Dies In Custody

By Paloma Sifuentes

OAKLAND, CA – The civil rights groups are protesting misconduct within Santa Rita jail after an inmate was killed, and said they want to close the jail.

Alameda County civil rights organizations, include the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Oakland Rising, Urban Peace Movement, Human Impact Partners (HIP), Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), and Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice.

Cody Vanburen was the fourth person to die at Santa Rita Jail in the last six weeks while in Alameda County Sheriff’s Office custody, charged the groups, noting, “For years, advocates have called out the level of abuse, neglect, death, and cruel punishment inside Santa Rita Jail.

“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,” said the groups.

They added, “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…”

The advocates argued, “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.”

Instead, the groups insist “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.

“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,” the groups said.

About The Author

Paloma Sifuentes is a Senior at California State University, Long Beach majoring in Criminal Justice. She plans on attending law school after she graduates with her bachelors degree in the spring of 2023. She is very passionate about Criminal Law and intends on working as an associates attorney in a law firm after law school.

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