A Letter to Yuba County Board of Supervisors: Release people detained by ICE at the Yuba County Jail to save lives

Yuba County Board of Supervisors and County Health Officials:

I am writing on behalf of the National Council of Jewish Women, Sacramento, to urge that you act promptly and effectively to safeguard the health and lives of individuals in your care and employment at the Yuba County Jail. I and our members, who reside in Northern California, are extremely concerned about the adverse and horrific impacts COVID-19 will have on people detained by ICE at the Yuba County Jail as well as jail personnel and the broader community.

By now, it must be readily apparent that COVID-19 poses a serious health hazard for the people in detention and the workers employed at your facility. Just this week, two Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputies died after contracting the virus from a jail inmate, leaving behind their wives and seven children. And, as I am sure you must be aware, Judge Maxine Chesney of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California recently ruled that it was uncontested.that people held by ICE at the Yuba County Jail cannot practice social distancing and ordered two detainees with underlying conditions released. For those detainees who are medically vulnerable, continued incarceration could be found to be cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. For these reasons, if anyone should be infected or die as a result of your non-compliance with medically recommended practices, Yuba County could be liable for monetary damages.

There are approximately 150 people currently detained by ICE at the Yuba County Jail, and an unknown number of jail personnel who interact with them. It is only a matter of time before a potentially devastating COVID-19 outbreak could occur at the County Jail. ICE detention centers across the country have had serious outbreaks of infectious diseases, including mumps, influenza, and varicella, which is also called chicken pox. Right now there is a terrifying COVID-19 outbreak in the Otay Mesa ICE Detention Center in San Diego, where there are at least 20 cases. A COVID-19 outbreak in your jail would have a huge impact on Yuba county as well as neighboring counties because it will spread to your employees and residents in the entire area.

Given ICE’s consistent pattern of medical neglect, we call on you to end the county’s contract with ICE, put people over profits, and immediately push to release all people detained by ICE in order to ensure their safety and the safety of all other people in the Jail, including jail staff, public workers, and the Sheriffs and Corrections Officers. Every day that people remain detained at the Yuba County Jail ICE Detention Facility increases the risk to their health and lives and to the health of our entire community. Please act with foresight and courage and use your powers as a member of the Board of Supervisors to cut the ICE contract and release the people detained by ICE now, to save lives before it is too late.Sincerely,

Patricia Sturdevant,
National Council of Jewish Women, Sacramento

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