Contra Costa County Turns its Back on Us
This Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved more than $25 million in spending on the controversial and unwanted jail expansion. Over a hundred protesters and dozens of speakers stepped up to voice their opposition, including our CEO, Jane Fischberg. Unfortunately, the board voted 4-1 to approve the spending—and chose to turn its back on the will of the people.
Below are Jane’s remarks from the board’s public comment period:
"Good morning, I’m Jane Fischberg, President and CEO of Rubicon Programs. I am also a longtime Human Services Alliance Executive Committee member, and past Chair of the Alliance.
The Alliance consists of 25 human services and behavioral healthcare community based providers from throughout the County. We have sent you a letter opposing appropriations of county funding for jail expansion for economic reasons as well as best practices in behavioral healthcare treatment in recovery.
I will not use this time to repeat the economic and evidence based reasons against jail expansion.
On both sides of this issue, we agree we need more funding for mental health services.
However, treatment providers as well as the cities of Richmond, El Cerrito, and San Pablo, and the majority of West County residents, know that we need those services in the community. People living with mental illness do not progress in their recovery in jail.
And, this not a prudent use of scarce County dollars for all the reasons members of the community including the Alliance and my colleagues in the ‘Services not Cells’ campaign have stated.
No, appropriating these funds does not make sense for either economic or evidence based reasons.
So today, I want to invite each of you to consider the legacy you want to leave in this county.
That is, our nation has invested for too long in the mass incarceration of people of color and people living in poverty.
Today, Contra Costa County has an opportunity to take a stand on the right side of history, against the criminalization of poverty, and on a moral arc bending toward justice.
I leave you with this question -- what stand will you take for equity and justice?
You can learn more about our position to the jail expansion in the East Bay Times here.