“Every person now in SQ is on death row. We pray also for the guards, staff and their families. they too deserve our compassion today. People treated as if their lives are expendable, but every person’s life is precious here.”
-Rabbi David Cooper, Emeritus, Kehilla Community Synagogue
On July 19, the interfaith community and families impacted by incarceration honored the lives lost in San Quentin due to COVID-19, called for the end of transfers, and lifted up the call for more releases. To view the powerful images from the vigil, see the photographs from local photographers David Bacon and Joyce Xi.
See the video here: https://vimeo.com/440742675
Our Interfaith Vigil lifted up the following demands, in line with the demands from loved ones who are incarcerated, including the campaigns for #ActNowNewsom (bit.ly/actnownewsom) and #StopSQOutbreak (bit.ly/StopSQOutbreakDemands):
- Governor Newsom must begin the process of drastically reducing the overall prison population to below 50% of current capacity. In order to achieve this level of decarceration, Governor Newsom must grant releases without categorical exclusions based on crimes of commitment or sentencing but be based on the current level of risk not past offenses. We know that people can change and transform their lives. Releases must include those who are serving Life Without Parole sentences, who are actually at the lowest risk of reoffending, and those on Death Row who comprise a majority of deaths by COVID-19. Release should be to families, the faith community, or community-based re-entry programs – not other prisons.
- Governor Newsom and CDCR must immediately stop all transfers between California prisons, and from prisons to ICE detention centers. Transfers continue to spread the disease inside the prison system, to staff and outside communities. Immigration transfers of people who earn release and parole. We believe all people are sacred and deserving of life, regardless of past convictions.
- Governor Newsom must release people beginning with those most vulnerable people, including transgender people, elderly, disabled, and those medically vulnerable. Transgender people are at disproportionate risk of harm and violence in prison. Prisons should not be a death sentence. All life is precious.
- Immediately improve the care and treatment for people inside San Quentin. This includes restoring access to phones to communicate to loved ones, adequate testing, access to PPE, improved sanitation, hot meals, etc. This also includes, CDCR must ensure that the incarcerated trans community has access to hormones and healthcare immediately – before and after their release. We demand that all people imprisoned be treated with mercy, compassion, and human decency.
Call to Action: Join us to tweet, email, and call the Governor! Hashtags: #StopSanQuentinOutbreak #FreeThemAll #FreeThemAllGov #StopICETransfers
See this Toolkit for ways more information: bit.ly/SQVigilToolkit
Ways to Stop the San Quentin Outbreak
Sample scripts, emails, and tweets can be found in the San Quentin Interfaith Vigil Toolkit.