For Immediate Release – 10/31/11
Letter Urges County Supervisors to Vote No on Using Realignment Money to Re-open Jail
Press Contact: Emily Harris, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Sacramento – Sacramento residents and organizations across California will urge Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to vote against jail expansion at their upcoming meeting on November 1st. The proposed plan from the Sheriff Department’s would reopen 275 beds at the Roger Bauman Facility (RBF) and would require $5.98 million, or 46%, of the county’s 2011-2012 realignment budget.
“We have strong concerns with the disproportionate amount of the Sacramento County realignment budget being allocated to expand jail capacity. The Supervisors will be going down the same road California has been traveling for the past 30 years — and look how well that’s worked for the state,” says Sacramento County resident Vanessa Nelson of Life Support Alliance. California’s prison system costs the state billions of dollars every year, and inhumane conditions inside have prompted a federal court to order the release of prisoners and prompted widespread prisoner protests.
Sacramento County could save approximately $700,000 every month if the Roger Bauman Facility remains closed, according to the statewide coalition Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB). Over 70 organizations affiliated with CURB submitted a letter this morning urging the Supervisors to use realignment dollars to increase access to rehabilitation services for people in and outside of jails, which would more effectively protect public safety and reduce costs.
“Our elected officials need to revamp this plan immediately to include housing, jobs and services for people coming out of jail. Our goal with realignment dollars should be to break the cycle of recidivism, not perpetuate it by failing to funding housing, jobs and services, so that former prisoners do not become homeless or are thrown back into a life of crime to survive,” says Bob Erlenbusch, Executive Director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance.
In a recent evaluation of realignment proposals in 13 Counties, CURB’s “Realigment Report Card” gave Sacramento an “Incomplete” for investigating the potential for new jail beds. A vote to re-open RBF would give Sacramento a “Failing” grade. CURB is calling for a prison and jail expansion moratorium and reinvestment in social services.
“We have plenty of jail space. We need alternative sentencing that can help put money back into building up our communities by re-opening schools that have been shut down. Why on earth are we closing schools and opening new prisons?” says Aaliyah Muhammad of All of Us or None Sacramento.
Sacramento County is one of 25 counties invited to submit a proposal for Phase II construction funding under AB 900. Despite an ongoing fiscal crisis in California, these costly jail expansion projects keep moving. AB 900 allocates a total of $7.4 billion in construction funds for adding jail and prison beds and marks the largest prison construction project in human history.
“Prison beds should not be what Sacramento County spends money on. As a teacher and activist I see the direct impact that education and family services has on reducing crime. The County should invest in education, rehabilitation, and mental health, not more jails” says Kerri Asbury, Chair of the Sacramento Democratic Party.