Visitation in OC jails has been stopped for months due to COVID, making jail time even more isolating. A good book goes a long way to providing some escape. Give a book to a neighbor living in an OC jail! Donate to our paypal paypal.me/booksbehindbars or email email@example.com for more information.
The first stop of the #SchoolsNotPrisons virtual concert tour launches on Saturday, August 29th with the aim of stopping the expansion of the Musick jail in Irvine, California, and commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium and murder of LA Times journalist Ruben Salazar.
Join us, Transforming Justice OC, Community Justice Action Fund, LatinoJustice, and other grassroots organizations for an evening of criminal justice advocacy, music, aerial performance, and information on how you can take action to #StoptheMusick!
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, in collusion with the Orange County District Attorney, is responsible for establishing and perpetuating a violent culture of negligence that has led to the epidemic of preventable deaths of those held in Orange County custody.
There were 4 recent deaths in the OC jails (3 at the Intake Release Center and 1 at Theo Lacy) in recent weeks, this brings the total known deaths this year to 9 under OCSD custody.
History of deaths in OCSD custody:
From January 1, 2010 to January 1, 2020, 78 people died in OCSD custody.
From January 1, 2010 to January 1, 2018, there were 59 deaths. According to this OCSD press release, there were 10 deaths in 2018 and 8 deaths in 2019.
Due to limited reporting and inconsistent press releases from OCSD, the list below may not include all deaths so far in 2020:
- 1/19: Santa Ana man suspected of murder was killed in a fight with an OC jail inmate
- 2/11: Inmate facing drug charges died at the Theo Lacy jail this morning
- 3/23: DUI suspect has died at the Theo Lacy jail
- 3/29: In-custody death of another inmate at the OC Central Men’s jail
- 5/18: In-custody death of inmate from Theo Lacy jail
- 7/14: In-custody death of inmate from Intake Release Center
- 7/16: In-custody death of inmate from Intake Release Center
- 7/19: In-custody death of inmate from Intake Release Center
- 7/22: An inmate at Theo Lacy died this morning
- Report: “Preventable Deaths in Orange County Jails”
- Report: “The Silent Killer’ Hypertension in Orange County’s Intake and Release Center”
- Report: “Our Brothers’ Keeper: A Look at the Care and Treatment of Mentally Ill Inmates in Orange County Jails”
- Report: “The Mental Illness Revolving Door: A Problem for Police, Hospitals, and the Health Care Agency”
The Sheriff, who acts as the county coroner, determines the manner and cause of death of those that die in his custody. His biased and ineffectual investigations, protected through inaction by the DA’s office, shields himself and county leadership from responsibility and accountability.
The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs contributed heavily to Don Barnes’ campaign for sheriff. They opposed Todd Spitzer for DA, but contributed to his campaigns in the past. Todd threatened to hold OCSD accountable, but since coming into office, Spitzer has supported incarceration through status quo fear-mongering, implicitly supporting OCSD’s continuing abuses. The AOCDS has also contributed to OC supervisors Andrew Do, Lisa Bartlett, and Don Wagner.
Our elected officials are failing to protect those they’ve sworn to care for. We are asking the community to stand up, to speak out against this terrible injustice. These unnecessary deaths must come to an end. Going to jail should not be a death sentence.
Please see these instructions for participation. These instructions will be updated as necessary.
Join Transforming Justice OC and other community organizations and advocates for Reimagine Justice in Orange County, a 4-part workshop series on dismantling incarceration in OC. The series will take place on Thursdays from 6-8pm in August.
Workshop 1 (Aug 6) Know Your Sheriff and Board of Supervisors
Understand incarceration in OC, a history of sheriffs & their powers, key players in OC’s criminal legal system, their roles and oversight and accountability.
Workshop 2 (Aug 13) OC Jails and Jail Expansion
Discuss current conditions in OC jails, why people cannot get well in a cell, the James A. Musick expansion, ongoing efforts and how to plug in.
Workshop 3 (Aug 20) Community-Based Systems Care
Learn about community based care including affordable housing, mental health and substance use services, diversion and alternatives to incarceration.
Workshop 4 (Aug 27) Follow the Money
Budget analysis and advocacy 101, overview of funding streams and priority spending, and the OC People’s Budget PlatformAttachments area
Thursdays, 6-8pm during August 2020.
Please donate to support the speakers who are volunteering their time, expertise, and for the experiences they are willing to share.
PayPal @justiceoc (Michael Tucker) and add a note “For Reimagine Justice”
More incarceration is not the solution to a failing social safety net. But on May 5, Orange County supervisors unanimously approved a construction agreement to expand the James A. Musick Facility in Irvine and build 896 new jail beds.
Sheriff Barnes claims that these new beds are for “mental health.” But mental health issues cannot be addressed when a person is inside of a cage. Instead, the expansion of Musick will encourage OCSD to continue to overpolice, criminalize, and incarcerate communities of color and poor people. As Jose Armendariz points out in his op-ed from OC jails, a bigger jail will encourage the Sheriff to continue to criminalize people with unmet mental health and substance use needs and people who are unhoused. If the county builds a bigger jail, Sheriff Barnes will fill it.
Expanding the jail is especially unnecessary when the jail population is at a historic low. The expansion would increase OC jails’ rated capacity to roughly 6,200 when the average daily population is down to 2,800. More than half of the people inside have not been convicted of the charges they are facing, but they remain inside because they can’t afford bail.
While communities across the country are demanding defunding police and the carceral state, OC supervisors continue to waste taxpayer dollars on incarceration. Spending $350 million to expand an empty jail is wrong, especially when we need those dollars to fund community-based healthcare, mental health support and affordable housing.
Join us in urging OC supervisors to end the construction of a bigger jail and to instead put community first.
#DefundOCSD #StopTheMusick #BuildCommunityNotMusick
Alongside the nation, the Orange County community is voicing rage and grief after the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and centuries of racism and the carceral state. Communities across the nation are demanding the carceral state be defunded and budgets be reallocated to support community care.
OCSD accounts for roughly 20% of the county’s general fund. Last year, OC supervisors approved more than $150 million in raises for OC deputy sheriffs under a new contract. Roughly $110 million of the raises and $48 million per year between 2019 and 2022 will come from discretionary funds that could be used for affordable housing, mental health and substance use services in the community, and other programs.
From 2008 to 2020, OC supervisors more than doubled the amount the Sheriff’s Department received from discretionary funds, while the OC Health Care and Social Services agencies saw reductions in their discretionary funding. Discretionary funds are taxpayer money the supervisors directly control. Unsurprisingly, OCSD experienced a 40% increase in mental health cases since 2015. Currently, 30% of the jail population require various levels of mental health services. When OC supervisors defund public health and social services while simultaneously increasing funding for the Sheriff’s Department, they exacerbate the policing and criminalization of public health issues.
Orange County residents know policing and incarceration are not policy solutions to a failing social safety net. Yet on May 5, county supervisors unanimously approved a construction agreement with Bernards Bros., Inc. to expand the James A. Musick Facility in Irvine and build 896 new jail beds, a majority slated to be so called “mental health beds.”
But mental health issues cannot be addressed when a person is inside of a cage. Instead, the expansion of Musick will encourage OCSD to continue to overpolice, criminalize and incarcerate communities of color and underserved people. As Jose Armendariz points out in his op-ed from OC jails, a bigger jail will exacerbate the perverse financial incentives to continue criminalizing people with unmet mental health and substance use needs and those who are unhoused. If the county builds a bigger jail, Sheriff Barnes will fill it.
Expanding the jail is especially unnecessary when the jail population is at a historic low. The expansion would increase the county jail system’s rated capacity to roughly 6,200 at a time when the average daily population of the jails is down to 2,800. More than half of the people inside have not been convicted of the charges they are facing, but they remain in custody due to the inability to post bail. Jailing people also has a racial impact, as a majority of people incarcerated in OC jails are Black and brown.
At a time when communities across the country are demanding divestment from police and the carceral state, OC supervisors continue to waste resources and funds on deputy raises and operations of the scandal ridden sheriff’s department rather than much needed community investments. Wasting $180 million in state funds and more than $170 million in local dollars to expand and operate a jail that has been vacant for close to a year in the middle of a pandemic is irresponsible and unethical.
Join us to demand OC supervisors #DefundOCSD, #StopTheMusic, and invest in #CareNotCages!
Armendariz: Sheriff Barnes, Rise of an Empire
“More jail beds added to James A. Musick Facility in Irvine, CA will not solve the mental health crisis that currently plagues the Orange County Jails system.”
OC Approves $151 Million in Sheriff’s Deputy Raises
“County supervisors approved the raises without public discussion Tuesday.”
New contract for Orange County Sheriff’s deputies will cost $150 million over four years
“Deputies will get raises totaling 14% over four years. Among other contract provisions, the amount reimbursed for career-related education jumps.”
Sheriff to Get Extra $65 Million for Existing Services Amid Pushback Over Housing, Public Defender
“County costs are growing faster than revenues, most prominently with the Sheriff’s Department, officials said.”