Santa Rita Jail Solidarity

Testimonies directly from people incarcerated at Santa Rita and informational resources on actions and decarceration

WELCOME TO THE SANTA RITA JAIL SOLIDARITY WEBSITE. This is primarily a resource for testimonies directly from people currently or formerly incarcerated at Santa Rita Jail, or from their family members and loved ones. While many of the current testimonies focus on issues inside jail during the COVID-19 crisis, moving forward this site will offer testimonies on a wide range of themes — from labor conditions, physical and mental healthcare, access to visitation and phone calls, hygiene and sanitation, use of lock-downs, and other topics that have been persistent issues for people inside. These testimonies have been gathered by lawyers, community advocates, and organizers, and are as unaltered as possible. Names and PFNs are only included if we have received clear and informed permission from the person giving the testimony to make that information public; otherwise, we have changed the names and removed other identifying information.

We know that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has always gone to great lengths to cover up the truth about conditions inside the jail — from constant lies to the press regarding in-custody deaths, medical care, abuse by deputies, hygiene, sanitation, and so much more, to labeling testimonies from prisoners presented by attorneys in public hearings as false “misinformation.” We understand that ACSO uses its control over the narrative and its lack of transparency as powerful tools, in an attempt to increase funding, power, and control. This website is our attempt to push back against the Sheriff’s ability to use these tools through sharing this firsthand information.

Throughout our communications with many people incarcerated in the jail, when we have asked what people outside can do to support them, one near-universal request that has emerged has been to keep the public informed about the reality of conditions inside – a reality which is often outrageously misrepresented by the Sheriff and jail spokespeople. Our primary goal is to support the needs and the well-being of prisoners, and the creation of this website is part of our effort to meet this request. We aim to inform you so that together, we can build a robust network of support for people experiencing neglect, abuse and exploitation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.

Testimonies

prisoner reports lack of medical care and ppe after being hospitalized; unsanitary conditions, and inadequate legal support from public defender

The pain is not being in prison. The pain is being restricted and taken of something from you. Your right to move and breath, and just be. That’s the hurtful part. Not that you’re in prison, you can still read books. I’ve been in way more restricted areas and still be freer. I had way less and felt way richer. There’s food in there, bedding. It’s the loss of liberty. People not giving a fuck...

prisoner speaks out about jail conditions including covid-19, grievances, retaliation, sanitation; advocates for more genuine rehabilitation

When you advertise the truth through grievances, attorneys, etc. Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputies, sergeants, lieutenants use a tactic of retaliation towards you – telling inmates false information about you or other methods. This has been going on for decades at Santa Rita Jail.

featured testimony: prisoner contracts COVID-19 and experiences isolation and medical neglect, explains how jail is using a “trick” of waiting 2 weeks to test and quarantine housing units to keep covid-19 number of cases low: “They treat you like you’re scum”

So Santa Rita could keep their numbers low, this is the trick they did. They knew I tested positive, so what they should have done right then and there is quarantine the whole section. But what they ended up doing was wait until I was done with my two week quarantine, then quarantined the pod and tested them after those two weeks. So by then, if you were sick, it was going to be out of your...

former prisoner tests positive for covid-19 and suspects he contracted it from medical housing unit in jail; ACSO denies emergency housing after his release

I believe that I contracted COVID-19 while in the OPHU of Santa Rita Jail, as that is the only source where I had contact with individuals who had COVID-19, and that the sheriff failed to take the necessary steps to protect me from contracting COVID-19, failed to do the required testing, and failed to take action, well within the sheriff's power and control, to even refer me to emergency housing...

after testing positive for covid-19, prisoner is put into solitary confinement in filthy cell with no medical care: “I thought i was going to die”

The next day, they gave me the COVID test, and on April 30, 2020, I tested positive. In solitary confinement, I got nothing. No cough drops, no extra blanket, no Tylenol, no hot drink, nothing. Just be in that room and suffer. Truly, I thought I was going to die.

prisoner with asthma and other health issues denied regular access to inhaler, concerned that shared inhalers could transmit covid-19

If you have trouble breathing other times, there’s no sick call and there’s no inhaler, and you have to push the button. But the technician who answers the button talks to you in such a way, as to make you feel really bad, so these last few weeks, although I had chest pains, I didn’t push the button.

deputies moving between housing units exposed and not exposed to covid-19 without changing gloves or masks, putting prisoners at risk

It seems that if the deputies are in another pod, where someone may be infected with COVID-19, and they walk into our pod with the same mask and same gloves on, it’s just spreading the virus around. The same problem exists when the deputies search prisoners and search our cells.

prisoner denied shower, soap, clean clothes, medical treatment, or any information after testing positive for covid-19

The jail didn’t tell me anything, but I knew that everyone in C had tested positive for the corona virus. I am essentially in solitary confinement, with nothing for comfort, and no medical treatment. I have had no shower. I have no soap. I have none of my property. I have not been given any clean clothes. I received nothing for my cough. I received nothing for my body pains.

after jail re-integrates symptomatic inmates into housing unit, prisoner tests positive and experiences extreme medical neglect

...I got Tylenol only twice. I was running a high fever, over 100 degrees and I had really bad headaches. I asked them for Tylenol and the nurse said to me, “The doctor said no Tylenol. We want your body to fight it off by itself.” And then the nurse closed the door slot and walked off. I never got any cough drops or anything for my cough. I asked for an extra blanket and the jail refused to give...

after surviving filthy cell, medical neglect, and no shower for 2 weeks, jail punishes covid-19 positive prisoner with solitary confinement for questioning placement in a non-covid housing unit due to assault threats from other prisoners who fear getting virus

On April 15, 2020, at 9:30am, the doctor came by to tell me that I would be finished quarantining that day. ...Around 11 a.m. or noon, staff let me out to shower, but the showers were still filthy — I considered them unusable. At this point, I had not showered since April 4, 2020. I also still had the same clothes and same underwear I had been wearing for over 10 days.

FEATURED TESTIMONY: DEPUTIES RETALIATE AGAINST PRISONERS for speaking out against ACSO budget proposal

At 8:52AM on Tuesday morning, during pod time, an individual was speaking to other prisoners about the Sheriff’s proposed budget increase and his opposition to it. ACSO Deputy Perry approached them and said, “Man, cut it out! Why y’all hating on my money?” The deputy then grabbed his nightstick and began swinging it around, instructing the whole pod to “lock the hell down” and telling everyone to...

prisoner is tested for covid-19 and moved into housing unit for positive prisoners, but not told the result of his test or given any other information

...The jail moved me into Housing Unit 8C, which the other inmates tell me is for those inmates who have tested positive. The jail itself has told me nothing. No doctor, no nurse, no deputy has told me what is going on. No doctor, no nurse, no deputy has told me I have tested positive for the Coronavirus. No doctor, no nurse, no deputy has told me what will happen or how long I will stay here.

jail’s “cleaning service” is seriously inadequate, unsanitary and unsafe conditions persist

Neither the showers nor the day room appeared to have been cleaned–in fact, the showers hadn’t been cleaned in over a week and smelled like urine. There was still blood and various other stains on the day room carpet. I fear that Santa Rita Jail will tell the media that they are following all protocol by hiring this cleaning service, but I believe I could have cleaned the pod much better myself...

Learn how you can take action to demand more releases from Santa Rita to protect the health and safety of our community

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