We’ve done it: 850 Bryant St. jail shutters its doors

by No New SF Jail Coalition

It’s official: County Jail 4 in 850 Bryant St. has closed its doors! There is no one being held there, and we have officially shut it down.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, at the SF Sentencing Commission’s Safety and Justice Challenge Subcommittee meeting, city leaders, including representatives of the SF District Attorney and the SF Public Defender, released the first draft of the subcommittee’s final report on the successful completion of the operational plan to close County Jail 4.

We couldn’t have done it without each of you. You met us in the streets. You met us at City Hall. You showed up and called in to give public comment. As of Sept. 5, County Jail 4 has officially reached a “zero” jail count, effectively closing its doors for good. We want to take a moment to appreciate your support and dedication over the years, and especially over the past several months.

Our people power and persistence are what passed the legislation, introduced by Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer in tandem with the No New SF Jail Coalition, to close County Jail 4 after decades of inaction by our city. The legislation also prohibits San Francisco from transferring imprisoned people out-of-county and restricts the city from building a new jail.

Despite the pandemic, wildfires and countless other urgent matters, our supporters also showed up to even more digital actions and public comment sessions after Sheriff Paul Miyamoto announced initial plans to keep using the jail to house kitchen and laundry workers, as well as continue using the jail’s holding cells.

While the sheriff will temporarily continue bringing incarcerated workers to cook meals and do laundry for County Jail 2, the closure of the jail without exceptions for the use of holding cells or for housing kitchen and laundry workers is nothing less than a people’s victory.

Our victory demonstrates that we can make real, material gains against the prison industrial complex through committed and sustained organizing.

Our coalition remains committed to monitoring this closure until “closed” means “closed” for every single person, including the 17 incarcerated kitchen workers who are expected to keep cooking meals at County Jail 4 until early next year.

The Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. has been slated for demolition since 1996 and has since become more and more dilapidated. In 2013, then-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi sought to build a new replacement jail – a move that was met with swift opposition from community members, formerly imprisoned people and housing and healthcare advocates.

As a result of pressure from the No New SF Jail Coalition, the Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected the idea of a new jail in 2015.

We are so proud of the work we have done together. Our victory demonstrates that we can make real, material gains against the prison industrial complex through committed and sustained organizing.

We hope you will keep an eye out as we send updates and plan our coalition’s next steps in the ongoing fight toward abolition. In the meantime, we invite you to continue joining us at our Abolition in Action event series to engage in political education and keep up the abolitionist momentum. All power to the people! Free them all!

We look forward to continuing to strengthen our movement for a jail-free San Francisco with you.

No New SF Jails victoriously defeated plans for a multi-million-dollar new jail from 2013-2015, moving on to join other groups to eventually defeat gang injunctions, close juvenile hall, end quality of life policing and the criminalization of homelessness, and fight different initiatives aimed at expanding funds to SFPD. In spring 2020, they won one of their campaign goals and passed legislation that will close County Jail 4 at 850 Bryant by November of this year. In every piece of their work, the people of No New SF Jails aim to chip away at the entire system of jailing and criminalization in San Francisco. Visit nonewsfjail.org to learn more.