Protesters call for audit of Alameda County Sheriff’s Office

On Tuesday morning, protesters marched about one mile from the Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility to the Alameda County Administration Building to protest Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern. The protesters allege that sheriff’s office practices have resulted in several high-profile incidents in which people in custody have died or been seriously injured.

Organized by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the protest featured speakers who said that 33 people had died within custody in the last five years. They also cited the death of Jessica St. Louis, who died about four hours after being released in the middle of the night from the sheriff’s Santa Rita jail.

Protesters also acknowledged a recent motion filed by a county public defender alleging that sheriff’s office employees had made illegal recordings of privileged conversations between minors and their attorneys. (On Wednesday, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley filed charges in Alameda County Superior Court against a sheriff’s office sergeant, James Russell. Russell “faces four felony charges of eavesdropping,” as reported in The San Francisco Chronicle.) Protesters also claimed that the agency had negligently allowed a jail inmate to give birth to her baby in a dirty cell without proper medical attention.

Protesters are calling for an independent financial and performance audit of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, but its governing body, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, agreed only to a more superficial preliminary audit conducted by the California State Association of Counties (CSAC).

Oakland North requested comment from two sheriff’s department spokespeople by phone and email but did not receive a response.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said that there were 33 in-custody deaths at the Santa Rita Jail. This number has not been independently verified by Oakland North. Protesters allege that 33 deaths have occurred.

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