No access to bathrooms, only to plastic bags. Hours-long lockdowns. Federal immigration detainees at the West County Detention Facility have documented these and other complaints in a September letter signed by 27 inmates to Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a group that monitors jails where immigrants are detained.
The Contra Costa County Sheriff – whose office has a $6 million-a-year contract with ICE to operate the immigration detention center – is investigating the allegations of mistreatment raised by the detainees.
The allegations were publicly revealed in a San Francisco Chronicle article on November 2, and the newspaper has further investigated the story:
- Deportation chosen over Richmond jail; complaints under investigation (SF Chronicle 11/2/17)
- Conditions worsen for some ICE detainees at RIchmond jail (SF Chronicle 11/10/17)
- Contra Costa sheriff investigating complaints by immigration detainees (SF Chronicle 11/11/17)
The reports have raised concerns among state elected officials. Reportedly, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) has scheduled a tour of the jail on November 27, and State Senator Nancy Skinner has urged California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a letter to probe conditions at the jail.
What you can do:
Please call your elected officials and say:
Hi. My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m with Indivisible East Bay. As the SF Chronicle has reported, immigration detainees at the ICE facility at West County Detention Center in Richmond are alleging abuse and mistreatment. Please move quickly to conduct a thorough, independent investigation to insure that their rights are upheld and that conditions do not put their health at risk.
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email): (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
- Sen. Kamala Harris (email): (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
- Rep. Mark Desaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
- Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065
- State Senator Nancy Skinner (email): (916) 651-4009 Oakland: (510) 286-1333
- State Senator Tony Thurmond (email): (916) 319-2015 Oakland: (510) 286-1400
- Your Contra Costa County Supervisor (contact info)
Other ways to help:
- Nancy Burke, of Courageous Resistance / Indivisible El Sobrante & Richmond, is organizing a meeting with the sheriff who runs the West County Detention Center to bring the community’s concerns to her attention. The meeting will focus on 10 points of concern about conditions at the facility. Please contact Nancy by email or phone: (510) 932-9267 if you have questions or you’re interested in attending the meeting.
- Save the date to help support CIVIC (the group to whom the detainees sent the letter) in their work to end the isolation of West County immigration detainees. Artists for Humanity invites all to an afternoon of music, poetry, and dance, January 28, 2018, 2:30 to 5:00 PM at Ashkenaz in Berkeley. The benefit concert (asking for a sliding scale donation) will create a revolving bail fund to be used by West County detainees to reunite with their families and gain legal representation. Email for more information.