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Santa Rita inmates deliver grievance on unsafe conditions, fear backlash

Inmates at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin delivered a grievance to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Monday alleging that the conditions at the county-run jail are unsafe, especially in the wake of the novel coronavirus, according to an inmate advocacy group.

Santa Rita Advocacy alleges in a news release:

“Conditions inside Santa Rita Jail, as in all jails and prisons, have always been a public health crisis, as prisoners have continually emphasized in their communiques.”

The group says:

“Institutions such as Santa Rita have never provided access to the proper cleaning and sanitation supplies, nor anywhere near adequate medical care.”

It says those issues were a key issue in an inmate hunger strike and work stoppage at the jail in the fall of 2019 “and remain a vital concern of prisoners who continue to organize for basic improvements in living conditions.”

Santa Rita Advocacy alleges:

“As we have already witnessed in 2020, prisoners inside Santa Rita were not spared during this year’s flu season, and many people became extremely ill.”

It says:

“Prisoners want the public to know that they continue to organize for the improvement of their basic living conditions.”

The group says Santa Rita inmates have drafted a detailed grievance describing the ongoing abuses they say they experience.

Santa Rita Advocacy says the grievance has been circulated throughout the jail for inmates to add their signatures in support of the statement. The collectively written document alleges that deputies at the jail “have attempted to prevent its circulation by raiding prisoners’ rooms and confiscating signatures.”

The group said the grievance, which was delivered to jail staff as well as the Board of Supervisors, “represents a major risk for prisoners who face retaliation and group punishment for exposing the conditions they face.”

Alameda County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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