For immediate release – Wednesday, October 12, 2016
What: Press Conference to unveil “San Francisco Community Health Initiative”
When: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 10:00am
Where: SF City Hall (Polk Street Steps), 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA 94102
Who: Head Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Supervisor John Avalos, Medical Providers, Community Advocates, No New SF Jail Coalition
San Francisco – Today, community organizers with the No New SF Jail Coalition are announcing The San Francisco Community Health Initiative, a comprehensive people’s plan that prioritizes meeting social and economic needs in order to end imprisonment. The plan is backed by medical experts and city leaders, and comes as the Board of Supervisors will be hearing proposals from city agencies, workgroups, and community organizations over the next several months as to how to successfully close 850 Bryant without building a new jail. The No New SF Jail Coalition rejects the notion that mental health can be provided in locked facilities operated by law enforcement, such as the partially locked Behavioral Health Justice Center proposed by District Attorney George Gascon.
City officials are also speaking out against more jails. Supervisor John Avalos has consistently opposed jail construction and helped ensure state funding for more jails in SF was rejected. In advance of the press conference, Public Defender Jeff Adachi indicated his opposition to aspects of the DA’s proposal, stating “Mental health treatment is critically needed in San Francisco. Rather than build a new behavioral health facility, however, I believe our clients would be better served being able to access immediate treatment at San Francisco General while awaiting placement.” Adachi continues to assert bail bond reform for drastically reducing the jail count by releasing under supervision those held simply for not affording bail.
In contrast to Gascon’s proposal, the Coalition’s plan outlines a citywide, community-based approach to providing care through housing, full service partnerships, substance use services, and harm reduction models instead of jailing San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations. Lidia Salazar from Communities United Against Violence reiterated that especially for LGBTQ, Black, and homeless communities targeted by policing, “services need to be separate from law enforcement”. She continued, “We need to continue investing in community-based services that are trauma informed and provided by those most impacted by incarceration. We need services that gives people access to support and the opportunity to take charge in their own healing and transformation.”
Nearly one in four people in the San Francisco jail system are homeless before being imprisoned with an even greater number of people vulnerable to homelessness upon release. “By continuing to divest from pathways out of homelessness, like permanent, affordable or free housing and housing support services – we continue to criminalize poverty and homelessness at neck-breaking rates. The local jail system will simply be used as an emergency shelter and treatment waiting facility only to see the cycle of imprisonment continue. It is beyond time for a shift in priorities and housing investments by the city,” said Lisa Marie Alatorre with the Coalition on Homelessness.
Today’s speakers include:
- John Avalos – San Francisco Board of Supervisors
- Roma Guy – Taxpayers for Public Safety
- Ms Janetta Johnson – Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project
- Lidia Salazar – Communities United Against Violence
- Jeff Adachi – Public Defender
- Dr. Alison Hwong – Medical Resident in the UCSF Psych Dept
- Lisa Marie Alatorre – Coalition on Homelessness
- Representatives of Critical Resistance
The No New SF Jail Coalition is a broad based coalition including organizations of formerly imprisoned people, youth with imprisoned parents, and those working on community resources such as health and housing. The Coalition will continue to mobilize to city hearings related to jail alternatives over the next several months, oppose Gascon’s plan, and work towards reducing San Francisco’s reliance on imprisonment.
For more information and a list of endorsers, visit: https://nonewsfjail.wordpress.com/