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 describes the horrors of conditions and treatment after testing positive for covid-19

He immediately slapped hand cuffs on me, and twisted my arm, and dragged me to Housing Unit 8C, even though I was feeling so poorly. When I arrived at Housing Unit 8C, the first cell they put me in was so filthy, with garbage and dirt all over the cell that I told them if they forced me to be in that cell, they would have to put me on suicide watch.

featured testimony: covid-19 positive prisoner put into solitary as punishment for questioning being moved back into housing unit while still symptomatic, reports rampant medical neglect: “This is torture”

I had not seen medical people or received medical attention since being placed here. I was having a hard time breathing. I had bad diarrhea, I had a shooting headache. I still had a bad cough. I had shivers and chills. One night, I had such trouble breathing I had a panic attack. I’m breathing but it did not feel like air was going on. And I can’t submit a medical request slip, I have no way of...

prisoner details a wide range of horrific conditions: lack of sanitation, medical neglect, misinformation put out by jail, exposing covid-19 positive prisoners to others, and more

Inmates often use their own body soap to clean the cell due to insufficient cleaning supplies. On April 20, 2020, the only supplies we received were a broom without the handle (just the bristles part) and a toilet brush. When we asked Deputy Whitlock for better supplies and a proper broom, he responded that we could "sweep on our knees" and did not provide us with additional supplies.

only watered-down disinfectant and toilet brush provided — no rags or mop provided; no wipes, soap, or masks in over a week

SRJ hasn’t handed out hand wipes, masks, or soap to his pod in over a week. Inmates have never received gloves. There is only one night deputy that comes around spraying the sink, toilet, and door handles of their cells with bleach, but that deputy had been away (either sick or on vacation) for a while and just came back.

deputies attempt to move COVID-19 positive prisoner back into housing unit while he is still feeling ill

Cedrick tested positive for COVID-19 on April 8, 2020, and was transferred yesterday to HU2, which is the "hole", because when the deputies came yesterday to remove him from quarantine, he informed them that he was still not feeling well, and did not want to be moved in with a roommate who was not infected, out of concern that he would transmit the virus to another person.

symptomatic prisoner exposed to several people who have tested positive is told he is negative and denied a second test

He was starting to get a fever, chills, and body aches. He started losing his sense of smell and taste, which would continue for two weeks....He finally went to OPHU, where they put him in an isolation cell with a gurney set up on the floor. Peter was tested for COVID-19 on April 5 by taking a swab inside his nose, but the test came back negative. He was confused by this, as he had all the same...

concerns over reintegration of “cured” covid-19 patients into housing units amidst lack of access to cleaning and PPE

They passed out disposable masks a week ago, but have not received new ones. Staff will come around offering cleaning supplies during pod time, but often, inmates don’t want to use them since they look very dirty and have just been used on plenty of other cells. Additionally, many folks are busy making calls during pod time, so they don’t get the chance to accept the cleaning supplies.

social distancing impossible, lack of sanitation and cleaning, unsanitary showers

During split tier pod time, staying 6 feet away from everyone is not possible. During pod time, if anyone in his pod has to go to the bathroom, they are forced to urinate in the pod shower, as deputies lock the cell doors, which have the toilets. This has always been the case and creates highly unsanitary showers – someone even defecated in the shower back when he was in HU 7.

infirmary filthy with blood, mucus, and feces; infirmary phones broken resulting in complete isolation

This was Elena’s second total time in the infirmary since arriving at SRJ and she said this time, the conditions were the same as the first: blood on the mattress, mucus on the walls, filthy floor, feces stain on blanket, etc. When she requested a new blanket or mattress, she was denied. The infirmary seemed especially crowded – Elena and Michelle had to share a room in there as well. Elena tried...

hiv-positive prisoner placed with symptomatic prisoners; has to use their own shampoo to clean cells

Amanda is HIV positive, and thus was on edge the entire time at SRJ – fearing she would contract COVID-19 due to SRJ’s protocol. When she arrived at HU24, it was already under yellow tagged quarantine. At one point, in her cell, she notes that a woman close to her was coughing hysterically, fueling Amanda’s concerns. When she went to court, staff combined hers and other units. Another inmate...

deputies tell prisoners they are “safer inside jail” while no sufficient sanitation or cleaning is occurring

He reported that while the last three weeks, on Fridays, the Sheriff’s Department has passed out soap, they did not pass out soap this week. He was also told by a Sheriff’s deputy that he is safer in jail, because being on the outside results in two risks: contracting Coronavirus and re-offending (again, he is pretrial).

Prisoner with severe pre-existing lung condition denied testing and medical care: “It’s outrageous the way they’re treating us”

So it’s been a couple people, including myself in my pod, requesting to get tested and they just brush us off. They say oh we’re not testing everybody, you don’t show symptoms. Well I have a lung disease basically and I could die immediately maybe within a week or two of contracting Coronavirus. So if they want me to wait to show symptoms it’s gonna be too late.

prisoner recovering from stage 4 pneumonia experiencing medical neglect and put at risk of exposure to covid-19

I was at the hospital in 2019 and I recovered from stage 4 pneumonia which I’m experiencing side effects from. Heavy breathing, night tremors. I’m getting up in the middle of the night coughing bad, unable to breathe easy. I’ve put in 4 different medical slips in March. Neither of those times where I’ve been seen. I’ve also grieved them 2 times on that matter.

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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