Dozens of protest plans for Santa Clara County’s new main prison – CBS San Francisco
SAN JOSE (KPIX) – About three dozen protesters gathered outside the Santa Clara County Main Jail on Friday afternoon to demand a “stop” to plans for the new jail and the sheriff who oversees the facility.
“Reallocate these funds to the community,” said Tina Brown, who told the crowd that her son was being held in the main prison.
Protesters are demanding that funds to build a new prison be spent instead on mental health and community resources, including parenting classes, job training and a behavioral health wellness center.
Brown said there was a need to invest in preventing incarceration rather than spending more money on building a new facility.
The group also called for improvements in conditions inside the prison for inmates but especially the mentally ill who are locked up.
“As an advocate, I don’t think the people incarcerated in the main prison are getting the mental health treatment they need,” said Clare Courtright, lawyer and patient advocate who works in the acute psychiatric unit. from the main prison.
“The conditions indoors for people who have COVID are not the way they should be,” Brown said. “The isolation cells contain feces and blood.
When asked if she thought Sheriff Laurie Smith was doing a good job, Brown replied, “No.”
Supervisors Joe Simitian and Susan Ellenberg will propose a vote of no confidence in Sheriff Smith on Tuesday.
San José Mayor Sam Liccardo recently called for his resignation, citing his alleged lack of cooperation in the corruption investigation involving his staff.
Supervisors last week called for a local, state and federal investigation into the murder of inmate Michael Tyree and the serious injuries of mentally ill Andrew Hogan.
“We know these things take time and in the meantime lives are at risk, taxpayers’ money is also at risk and we just can’t act like it’s nothing happened – as if it were normal or acceptable conduct on the part of a public official. sole responsible for law enforcement, ”Simitian said. “It’s a shame to get there, but I’m afraid. “
However, protesters said they blamed not only the sheriff but the county leaders as well.
They walked to a county-led community engagement meeting to find out if a new prison is needed and what type of facility is desired.
Simitian said there was a pause in plans for the new prison as they tried to determine what kind of resources should be designed at the new facility.
“Prison is not a good place to be and so if there are other better places for people who need help rather than being incarcerated, I think our whole board wants find that way, ”Simitian said.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the sheriff would not comment on the no-confidence vote proposal.