Rally in Santa Cruz Against Jail Expansion Locally and Across California

On January 16, the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) officially recommended Santa Cruz County to receive $25 million it requested for jail expansion at Rountree Detention Center in Watsonville. Now, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors has 90 days to approve or reject the jail expansion proposal from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.

Sin Barras, an organization that has been leading the campaign to fight jail expansion locally, has a counter-proposal: Rather than expand and reopen unused jail facilities, our county needs to truly invest in our community by funding employment, affordable housing, and mental health & drug treatment.

In response to the BSCC’s January 16 recommendation, Sin Barras and other community members demonstrated later that day at the Clock Tower in downtown Santa Cruz to say, “NO MORE MONEY FOR JAILS!”

The Sheriff’s Office, which operates the county’s adult jail facilities, say the grant money from the state would be used to relieve the overcrowded Main Jail in Santa Cruz, and to expand upon education and job training programs offered at the jail.

In a Santa Cruz Anti-Jail Expansion Info Sheet handed out by Sin Barras during the demonstration, the group answers some important and common questions.

But doesn’t this proposal provide better programming, public safety and family reunification?

All jails are unsafe: imprisonment breaks up families and communities, causes people to lose their jobs and homes, and exacerbates mental and physical health issues.

Critical programs and social services, like permanent affordable housing and drug treatment programs continue to go underfunded. We agree that California needs sentencing reform, but we disagree that California voters should pay millions of dollars for a jail expansion due to legislative inaction.

The proposal’s promise of more programming in the main jail depends on space being freed up by the removal of temporary beds from “day areas”. But the proposal can’t guarantee a reduction in Santa Cruz County’s overcrowded population over the long term, and were the jail population to rise for any reason, there would be nothing to stop those temporary beds from going right back into the “day areas”.

For much more information on the proposals for and against jail expansion, including video and photo coverage of the January 16 demonstration, please visit:

Sin Barras meets every Wednesday, 7pm, at the Circle Church.
111 Errett Circle
Santa Cruz, CA 95060