One More Important Reason to Turn out Thursday
Support Chief Magnus
he debate about building more jails is heating up. The Sheriff is campaigning hard to spend the $19 million dollars of state "realignment" money on building new jails.
Police Chief Chris Magnus who represents County Law enforcement officials on the over-site commission (CCP) has circulated a powerful letter to County Law Enforcement explaining why the old jail system is broken. (Excerpts below). But now there are rumors that supporters of Sheriff are now trying to push Chief Magnus out of the CCP.
It is critical that we have a powerful showing at the demonstration on Thursday not only to pressure the County Board of Supervisors but to let the political forces know that there is strong backing for Chief Magnus and his views on using resources to deal with the real problems. Invest in People Not Prisons
The CCP meeting starts early and there will be a press conference at 7:50am outside 50 Douglas Drive in Martinez.
Buses leave promptly from St. Marks Church (Harbor Way below Macdonald) and New Hope Missionary Baptist Church (321 Alamo Ave in North Richmond) PROMPTLY at 7:15 am Thursday
Excerpts of letter from Chief Magnus:
Dear Fellow Chiefs and Sheriff:
One of the themes I have heard repeatedly from the start of the realignment process moving forward is that whatever system we develop at the County level to deal with realignment offenders not simply be a duplication of the failed corrections system at the State level. I think we are all aware of the outrageously high rate of recidivism among individuals coming out of prison and the general lack of resources in our communities when it comes to programs and services that might change this, including education and employment services, housing, mental health and substance abuse services, and overall community support.
I fully appreciate the Sheriff's concerns about holding dangerous individuals in secure detention, but a very large group of offenders currently held in County detention facilities are there awaiting trial--they haven't been found guilty of anything yet--and in many cases, the only thing separating them from other individuals who are out on bail awaiting trial is lack of financial resources to post bail. In addition, many of these individuals are not in jail awaiting trial for violent crimes and could potentially be eligible for other forms of pre-trial supervision, including ankle monitoring and home detention.
Clearly, one of the things we desperately need in Contra Costa County is BAIL REFORM. We need better tools to assess the relative risk of individuals who are potentially eligible for bail--the kind of risk assessment tools that have been used elsewhere in our state and around the country to better determine who needs to stay in Jail because of their danger to the community, versus who could safely be released in most cases. This is not just a matter of enhanced community safety, it is a matter of reducing costs. Keeping low-risk pre-trial inmates in jail is incredibly costly--and it means bed space may not be available for the people we really want there because of the dangers they pose to others.
The Sheriff mentioned the issue of "Secure Communities," the federal program that involves local governments working closely with ICE to identify and assist in the deportation process of non-documented individuals. What he did not say was that there are many local government and law enforcement leaders around the country who do not support this program and who believe it directly hinders their ability to do effective community policing within their diverse communities. They also believe that immigration enforcement is a federal, not local law enforcement responsibility. In addition to the legal distinctions that separate federal, state, and local law enforcement, perhaps the most salient point is that there is no federal funding for local governments to perform this function.