We’re writing to give a report on the San Mateo Board of Supervisors meeting September 11th and to ask you to join us again on September 25th, when the Board will vote on the 2012-2013 county Budget. First things first, everyone who planned for the meeting and attended should be congratulated – what a success! 200 people – individuals and representatives of organizations – packed the chambers. The community made its voice heard: with this amazing turn-out, with a room full of “No New Jails” signs, and with 2 hours of passionate and informed public comment.
Speaker after speaker got up, shared their experiences and knowledge, and demanded that the Board cancel the jail funding and hold a public hearing on ways to reduce the jail population. Together, they built a powerful case for why San Mateo County doesn’t want, doesn’t need, and can’t afford a new jail. Speakers described how recovery services and services for the homeless and people with disabilities have been drastically cut. They talked about their personal experiences with the jail and prison systems. They gave statistics and historical background for why jails only hurt the communities they are supposedly keeping safe. And they named dozens of alternatives to building a new jail that would build a stronger, healthier and more just San Mateo County.
We were inspired by the strength of all the speakers, and touched by the courage of the Redwood City High School students who stood up to describe the impact of budget cuts on their education. It was also inspiring to see people who were at the county for a jobs and services recovery fair come inside to speak against the jail and for investment in jobs, training, and drug treatment. In general, the testimony from all the speakers was a challenge to the Board of Supervisors. What message does it send to our young people when county government claims to be broke where their education is concerned, but is ready to turn around and spend $160 million plus on a jail? Considering community needs, how can a new jail still be first on the County’s list of priorities?
While the Board of Supervisors hasn’t agreed to change course yet, there is clearly momentum and a movement building against new jails in the County and throughout the state. San Mateo is surrounded by counties like San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda and Santa Cruz that have chosen community-based solutions instead of building new jails. Contra Costa County just canceled plans for a new jail in the face of determined community opposition. Los Angeles CURB members beat back a $2.66 billion jail expansion plan in LA and are fighting tooth and nail to stop any new cages from being built.
As we plan and work to speak at the next Board of Supervisors meeting, where they’ll be voting on the 2012-2013 budget, we are encouraged to realize that when the community comes together, it makes a difference. We’re proud of the work we have done so far, excited for the next Board of Supervisors meeting on the 25th, and convinced that we can stop this jail.
Check-out all the great media from the action:
“Invest in People”! Chant in Protest of Planned San Mateo Co. Jail, You Tube Video
Split in San Mateo on How to Ease Crowded Jails, The Wall Street Journal 9/12/12
Drumbeat against San Mateo County’s proposed jail grows louder, Mercury News 9/12/12
Jail opponents rally at county center, Daily Journal 9/12/12
Hundreds pack San Mateo supervisors’ meeting, demand no new jail, SF Bay View 9/11/12
Group Opposes New San Mateo Co. Jail, NBC Bay Area 9/11/12
Jail Protestors Vow to Bring Fight to Supes, Redwood City Patch 9/11/12
Please join us::
Tuesday, September 25th
8:30am Meet in Court Yard
9:00am Meeting Starts
Board Chambers 400 County Center, First Floor Redwood City
To RVSP for carpool leaving West Oakland BART at 7:15am, or for help with transportation from East Palo Alto, contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org