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

kitchen worker describes consistently expired, spoiled, and contaminated food; aramark workers purposefully failing to address these issues

I have seen our Aramark supervisor, Margarita, pull unused trays out of the garbage to be used on the line again. This concerns me because I try to keep things as clean and sanitary as possible. Margarita sometimes sees rat poop sitting on top of the trays. I have seen her dust off rat poop with her bare hands. I have also seen Margarita pull bugs out of the food, with her hands.

kitchen worker describes food consistently spoiled by lack of refrigeration, food cooked with maggots in it, rats in freezer

The food at Santa Rita Jail is frequently spoiled and inedible. On the week of October 5, 2020, when I was still in HU 22, beans were served with maggots in them. The maggots were cooked with the beans. When we told the deputy, his response is “this is all you get”, “eat it or throw it away”.

kitchen worker describes feces, rats, cockroaches, birds in kitchen; aramark refuses to adequately address poor food quality and unsanitary conditions

I have found rat poop on top of the meal trays that are going out to the housing units. When I brought this issue up with Margarita, she picked off the rat poop with her bare hands and threw it away.... I reported this to a kitchen deputy and asked for the trays to be remade. We have to fight to get Aramark to throw away food that is not fit to serve. Rather than make all new trays, they try to...

prisoner being retaliated against for filing grievances; calls for third-party surprise visits to jail

Sheriff Ahern and his deputies have a blatant disregard for taxpayers money. From sexual harassment to deputies giving each other massages on the taxpayers dime, and lots more in between, including being locked outside in the yard, and past dinner, and then having to beg for food. It's time for this jail to have a more serious audit than the current one. There needs to be an unbiased third-party...

jail lying about amount of testing and not testing correctly leading to inaccurate results; only in compliance during inspections; retaliating against whistle-blowers

The most important thing is for them to know is that the jail is lying to people about how much they are testing. They are not offering the test to everyone. Since March 2020 they have not offered the test to every inmate, so not every inmate has been tested. They are not getting accurate results. They are not doing the procedures the right way.

prisoner describes consistent lack of masks, and is denied release despite high health risk and no violent past convictions

The inmate grievance response is “....Santa Rita can’t just let you out, you must be released through the courts.” So I asked my Public Defender regarding said issue, and she said the courts are not going to give me a 5-month-early release but she did state: Santa Rita Jail could give me an early release without a court order.

jail lying about conditions and covid-19 cases, dangerous medical neglect, abuse by deputies, disgusting sanitary conditions: “Every human life here is based on a dollar”

Every human life here is based on a dollar. It doesn't matter if you're spending money on this GTL network or buying these overpriced canteen items. People are being denied the full medical treatment they need. Please share this information with the news and anyone you can. The jail is providing false information to the media. The more people whose eyes are opened to conditions like this the...

roaches, bird droppings, and mice in food among other unsanitary conditions; prisoners forced to clean for inspections and face retaliation and abuse from deputies for speaking out

During inspections, they make the “podworkers” slave day in day out to cover up all the seen dirt-filled areas, waxing floors and door knobs.....Sergeants come in housing units angry, demanding all sorts of cleaning done to the entire housing unit overnight, and the deputies put their slave pod workers to work fast! Cleaning inside and even outside in 100-degree weather heat. Cleaning to injury...

prisoner describes medical neglect and denial of testing for people with covid-19 symptoms, torturous conditions of infirmary and other abuses

Everyone in the hole had COVID-19. We know we did, even though we were all denied tests. They brought someone to the hole one day, and then took him back to his pod later that same day. But having come to that area where everyone else was infected, he was obviously exposed. Two days later, he was returned to the hole, showing symptoms of COVID-19. Who knows who else he may have spread it to.

deputy rocha “prancing around the entire jail, with no PPE or any precautions, and was exposing the entire jail all while denying he was sick”

They act like we are animals. We are all losing our minds crammed in our tiny cells for 23 hours a day, as if they are cages. We have only one hour a day that we can leave. The rest of the time we are stuck. It is torture. Now with COVID-19 on top of everything, we are being given death sentences. All this, without even being proven guilty.

prisoner describes harassment from deputies, denial of seizure medication, rotting food, feces in shower, mice and roaches, reckless exposure to covid

We just want help with COVID so we don't die. They're carelessly and recklessly exposing us to COVID .... It's life-threatening and it's not okay. It's like attempted murder. It's not okay. It's such a fraud to increase their budget when CA is so in debt right now.

prisoner statement for july 20 press conference

Inmates are people too, and we are innocent until proven guilty. Are inmates not citizens and taxpayers too? Do seven people have to die before you decide to do something about it? Do people have to loot stores before you decide to do your job? Do they want the same thing that happened in San Quentin to happen here? Will they wait for the numbers to get higher before taking action?

prisoner repeatedly harassed by deputy; reports denial of testing, inappropriate use of strip searches, solitary confinement, and other abuses

The public should know that inmates inside are suffering from our lack of medical help, dental care, food, yard time—we get yard two times a week to see daylight, only 4 hours at best. They should know that there are unsanitary conditions and a lot of police misconduct.

people in jail “not being tested at all”; cleaning, PPE, and social distancing measures not being taken

I've asked nurses, Deputy Chong, Deputy Olson, and Deputy Gainer, but they say they don't do coronavirus testing and they won't give us any information or sick call forms. I've been sneezing and have a stuffy nose, but I don't know if they are symptoms of coronavirus because they won't test me. People aren't being tested at all. They're trying to keep things secret here, not letting everyone know...

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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