After years of an ongoing healthcare scandal over the dismal healthcare conditions in Santa Rita jail, Alameda County is back to the drawing board in selecting a healthcare provider for its jail system. Yet despite the turmoil, they are barrelling forward with expanding the jail under the banner of improved health care.
For those of us who don’t want a bigger jail, this is an important moment to intervene.
As Alameda County considers re-opening the process to find a medical provider, we can turn the tide on the jail plan. We need to make sure the media is covering the real story here. Submit a letter to the editor to ask: How can Sheriff Ahern justify building a “mental health” jail without even having a competent health care provider?
The two main healthcare providers vying for a contract at the new unit, Corizon and CFMG, are both for-profit healthcare companies that are notorious for inadequate care and deaths under their watch. Corizon Correctional Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit provider of correctional healthcare, recently paid the largest civil-right wrongful death settlement in California history of $8.3 million for the death of an individual incarcerated at Santa Rita. Corizon’s tenure at Santa Rita also resulted in the preventable deaths of two others, while CFMG’s tenure at Santa Cruz County resulted in six deaths, prompting a year-long investigation by the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury.
These scandals clearly demonstrate the travesty of health care in jails and prisons. Yet, in June, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with their multi-million dollar plan to expand Santa Rita Jail despite substantial opposition in the community, justifying the move with promises of improved mental health and medical care.
We know jails are, by nature, inappropriate and dangerous settings for mental health and medical treatment. The only way to meaningfully improve mental health care access and quality is to invest in community-based mental health services, not a bigger jail.
Join us in flooding the newsrooms with concerns from the community about Alameda moving forward with their wasteful and inhumane jail plan.
Critical Resistance Oakland
Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget