Santa Clara County Jail Accountability

End incarceration, get people home, and protect the rights and dignity of those who are inside until they are free.

Our 2019:
We will work to develop a multi-prong and responsive accountability system for those who are housed in our jail. One approach will be for us — through family, friends, and supporters — to be an extension of the movement inside the jail. This will be accomplished by supporting the growth and Prisoners United, and assertive the communities’ aims in the formation of the new Civilian Oversight Model which was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2018. We will also be using 1421 to strengthen the complaint process inside.

As we start the year:

We start the year trying to find answers to the death of young Isai Lopez, and once again seeing the same head of the Sheriff’s Department, Laurie Smith, who won her election in 2018 despite much public criticism. There were undeniable gains from the hunger strikes and internal organizing in the jail of the last few years, but also much of the same issues that fueled that movement — structural problems around the complaint and classification program for example. The regular meetings of the community and administration has been stopped by administration. Silicon Valley De-Bug will develop in partnership with the incarcerated to create literature on how to write a grievance, an appeal, file a habeas corpus and a 1421 request. This literature will also include how their families can write a complaint in support of their loved one’s grievance, how their families can submit a medical consent form to support their loved one’s health, and how to reach the board of supervisors if necessary. This literature will also include information about how to utilize other tools such as the jail observer program, the IAC, Silicon Valley De-Bug, Prison Law Office, as well as info from 1st 24.




August 27, 2015: Michael Tyree dies while in custody. Three correctional officers are arrested for his murder.

November 2015: Prison Law Office files lawsuit citing conditions and excessive use of force in the jails.

November 2015: Santa Clara County creates a Blue Ribbon Commission, composed of both county officials and community stakeholders. The aim of the commission to come up with policy recommendation to improve the jails.

March 2016: Blue Ribbon Commission holds final meeting, and submits final recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

August 26, 2016: Santa Clara County Finance and Government Committee Holds Special Meeting to Prioritize Jail Reform Recommendations.

September 7, 2016: Santa Clara County Finance and Government Committee Hears from Civilian Oversight Experts.

October 17, 2016: Hundreds of Santa Clara County inmates begin a hunger strike to protest solitary confinement and jail conditions.

October 23, 2016: Hunger strike is suspended by the inmates after achieving significant progress in their list of demands.

CAMPAIGN STATUS: Will COntinue into 2017

While tremendous strides were achieved by those detained -- and the community who supports them -- in highlighting the need for independent oversight of the Santa Clara County Jail, the county is still in the process of implementing a model. We will continue to advocate for a thorough, transparent, and effective oversight model in 2017 for the Santa Clara County jails.

Families who have loved ones housed in the Santa Clara County jails address the crowd at the De-Bug San Jose launch party.


Call or write your Board of Supervisor and ask that they approve an independent civilian oversight model for the jail.