Decarcerate Sacramento is a coalition working to end jail expansions, decrease jail populations, and shift county funds away from policing and incarceration towards community-based systems of care that actually keep the public safe.
Our response to COVID-19 was immediate. We sent this letter to the Sheriff’s Department on March 12th. Following that public statement, we worked to support the Public Defender’s office with their motions that, if approved by a judge, would release hundreds if not thousands. The first motions approved the release of those with less than 60 days on their sentence. The Sacramento County Jail population overall was reduced by over 30% due to COVID-19 related releases. We are demanding that the requirement for people released early to return to finish their sentences be lifted, and that the County focus its efforts on continuing to reduce the jail population.
The percentage of people in Sacramento County Jail who have not been sentenced.
The population of Black folks in the jail population (the total Black population in Sacramento County is 11%).
The number of people in Sacramento County Jail who have been diagnosed with mental illness, and who do not receive any treatment.
The number of people charged with misdemeanors in Sacramento experiencing homelessness.
Decarcerate Sacramento formed in response to an $89 million dollar jail expansion planned for the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center (RCCC). Community members were deeply concerned that this expansion would continue to cause county budget cuts to vital human services. Our goals were clear from the beginning- in addition to stopping this jail expansion we advocated for jail population decreases and a drastic shift in county funding to community-based services.
Community members mobilized to a Board of Supervisors meeting in July of 2019 to publicly express opposition to the new jail expansion for the first time. Met with gaslighting from the board, we then developed comprehensive, factual arguments in response to their scapegoating of the Mays v. Sacramento lawsuit. Continuing to meet with individual supervisors throughout the summer, our “Wellness and Public Safety Committee” became Decarcerate Sacramento. After months of public education and community pressure, the board voted on October 22nd to reduce the scope of the project and to make their final decision at their next meeting.
Finally, on November 5th, 2019, with over 60 people filling the board chambers, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted to cancel the expansion of RCCC. While we celebrated this win for our community, we know there is much more to be done. We are currently working to stop a new jail tower from being built next to the Main Jail downtown.
No New Sac Jail
Sacramento County is planning to build another jail tower next to the Main Jail downtown. It’s unclear at this point in the design process how much this new jail will cost the county, but we know it is planned to be used for “medical and mental health services” which cost significantly more to provide inside a jail setting. We know that care cannot be effectively provided in a jail setting, and continuing to fund the Sheriff’s Department at the expense of community-based services ensures Sacramento will continue to incarcerate people with serious mental health needs.
Defund Cops & Cages -- Reinvest in Communities
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department receives over a third of the General fund and their budget continues to increase every day. We know that in order to decrease our county jail populations, we must invest in our communities, especially Black communities
Decarcerate Sacramento maintains contact with a network of people inside of Sacramento County Jails. We work to build relationships that inform our strategy and decision-making and to advocate with those experiencing horrific conditions inside of Sac County Jails- which are widely known to be among the worst in the state.