Santa Rita Jail (SRJ) is one of the largest county jails in the nation and the fifth largest county jail in California.  In February 2022, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office entered into an agreed-upon Federal Consent decree.  This resulted from several issues raised through litigation on behalf of the incarcerated population at SRJ.  These issues included insufficient time spent out-of-cell, lack of access to rehabilitative opportunities for incarcerated persons with higher security classification, overuse of housing people alone in cells, lack of meaningful suicide prevention, inadequate review of Use of Force incidents, and staffing shortages of Behavioral Health workers and Sheriff’s Office personnel.


Within the first year of the Consent Decree, the Sheriff’s Office has worked with our joint-approved monitors and attorneys representing the incarcerated population to enact policy changes.  A new Use-of-Force policy and review process was put in place, which has resulted in a decrease in injuries to those in custody as well as staff.  A new classification system has been implemented which reduced the number of the incarcerated population restricted to being housed alone.  Out-of-cell time has increased, as well as Sheriff’s Office and Adult Forensic Behavioral Health staffing numbers.  SRJ transitioned to an electronic out-of-cell tracking system to replace paper logs in an effort to improve the accuracy of the information collected.  To make better use of the available space, major construction projects are currently in the design and development phase which will increase the availability of indoor and outdoor recreational activities.


Many of the concerns voiced by community members, formerly incarcerated persons and their loved ones, and community organizers have been addressed by the consent decree. Sheriff Sanchez recognizes the need for improvement within the confines of SRJ and has welcomed the opportunity for change since the onset of the process. The agency is committed to repairing harms caused at SRJ through substantive changes within the facility and restoring trust in the system through a holistic change in agency culture.  Many of the recommendations provided to the Sheriff’s Office, which are also indicated in the consent decree, are not reiterated in this document.  It should be understood that Sheriff Sanchez is committed to the successful implementation of all mandates of the consent decree.


In addition to these improvements, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is committed to reducing the number of deaths which occur in the custody of the Sheriff. Sheriff Sanchez is committed to providing transparency around deaths and other significant incidents which occur inside SRJ, to the extent allowable by the law.  The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office will work towards system-wide comprehensive solutions to curtail the number of deaths that occur in custody. Introducing best practices requires an evaluation of jail deaths from a systems change approach in addition to analyzing the events which precipitated or followed an individual occurrence.




Ensure Santa Rita Jail is a safe environment for those who work there and those in custody




TASK 1.1


Research and implement best practices identified to prevent suicide and reduce overall deaths in the jail.




TASK 1.2


Identify measures to reduce the amount of overtime worked by Sheriff’s Office staff at Santa Rita Jail.




TASK 1.3


Work on efforts through training, hiring, and education that discourages the disparate treatment of individuals in custody, especially those who represent marginalized communities.






Ensure the overall health and well-being of all incarcerated individuals




TASK 2.1


Implement systems that prioritize the health and safety of the incarcerated population.




TASK 2.2


Create a monthly jail advisory call where participants are provided updates on the inner workings of Santa Rita Jail, and are allowed to ask questions pertaining to other community concerns.




TASK 2.3


Require consistent cleaning of all shared spaces and holding areas, especially medical facilities, bathrooms, and kitchens.




TASK 2.4


Improve the quality of meals served at SRJ.




TASK 2.5


Evaluate the intake and release process to ensure people feel safe and are treated humanely.




Guarantee each person in custody receives services based on their individual physical health, mental health, and societal needs






TASK 3.1


In-depth screening process to begin at intake.




TASK 3.2


Offer services and programming based on the needs of the person, their length of incarceration, and their mental well-being.






Introduce evidence-based programs that have proven to decrease access to drugs in custody and help determine when someone is at significant risk of overdose or suicide




TASK 4.1


Implement drug detection efforts through the use of body scanners, K-9 program, and other advanced technology.




TASK 4.2


Place amnesty boxes inside of Intake, Transfer, and Release area of SRJ.




TASK 4.3


Work with Adult Forensic Behavioral Health to introduce a suicide prevention hotline that is available for use by members of the incarcerated population.






Create a system of information sharing with other county partners to ensure those most vulnerable are diverted away from Santa Rita Jail




TASK 5.1


Establish a network of partners focused on combating the mental health crisis in our community.




TASK 5.2


Establish a network of partners who serve the unhoused population to ensure those unhoused are connected to services before release.






Implement a restorative justice framework within Santa Rita Jail




TASK 6.1


Allow those with lived experience to work with the incarcerated population within Santa Rita Jail.




TASK 6.2


Train staff in trauma-informed, restorative justice, mental health first aid, and human-centered practices in collaboration with community-based organizations and other experts.




TASK 6.3


Partner with organizations already conducting restorative justice practices in other institutions.