May 18, 2017: Think Globally, Resist Locally

Resistance is critical as the current president and the Federal Government are taking steps everyday to further oppress communities across the country. Some of the worst actions are happening right here in our region.

Resistance is critical as the current president and the Federal Government are taking steps everyday to further oppress communities across the country. Some of the worst actions are happening right here in our region.

As a Richmond City Councilmember and an activist, I have been a leader in opposing the proposed expansion of the West County Detention Center. In Contra Costa County, the Sheriff’s Department has a contract to collaborate with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain immigrants in the West County Detention Center (jail) in the City of Richmond. With the President’s expansion of escalated immigration enforcement, the department can project an influx of detainees. Conveniently, a jail expansion provides more beds for these detainees.  The Sheriff’s department is intent upon expanding its jail system. 

The Sheriff is proposing that we spend $95 million of taxpayer money, at least $25 million of which will come from the county reserve and general funds - money that should be spent on services not more jail cells. The Sherrif’s projection is that it will cost more than $5.1 million per year to maintain the expanded jail. The actual costs can and likely will end up being more. This is money that could be providing much needed beneficial metal health and other prevention programs in the community.

Should Contra Costa County be a part of President Trump’s “Deportation Force?” -- I say absolutely not!

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and The Board of State and Community Corrections need to hear from residents like you. Both bodies have dismissed our concerns, and as of this morning the contract has been approved in spite of the protests by well organized opposition. 

I will continue to stand in solidarity with the Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition that includes, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), SEIU1021, California Nurses Association (CNA), SEIU 2015, Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO), East County organizations, and a large number of committed community members from throughout the county and the region. 

I reiterate here what I have shared with those who are proposing a jail expansion:

We need services; not jail cells. I work with children and families for Contra Costa County Health department in the mental health field. This is not simply rhetoric for me. On a daily basis I witness the devastation caused by services that have been cut as a result of a lack of funding. We lack money for services, but find it to build jails. 

If you have a problem with this as I do, I strongly encourage you to join with me and the Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition.  I will continue to stand in solidarity with them in opposing a highly flawed and expensive plan to expand the jail system in the city of Richmond in the county of Contra Costa. Reject this highly flawed and expensive plan to expand the jail system.

Senator Nancy Skinner has authored S.B. 880 that will stop this type of spending in the future. I support this legislation and will work for its passage.

Together we can resist this effort and build a stronger, more inclusive community and state.