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Reject the Babu Settlement

Babu v. Ahern is a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of a class of adults who are currently incarcerated in Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail (SRJ), or will be in future, claiming that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) fails to provide adequate mental health care at the jail. The suit was filed in 2018 by the law firm Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, LLP (RBGG). Rather than go into litigation, RBGG settled with the County. The Consent Decree outlining the terms of the settlement is unacceptable and prioritizes funding for the Sheriff over the health and well-being of incarcerated people at SRJ. 

What Does This Settlement Say? 

The Consent Decree is 110 pages and covers the following areas, among others: 

  • COVID-19
  • Mental healthcare and suicide prevention
  • New classification system with “Therapeutic Housing Unit” for people with mental illness
  • Minimum levels of out-of-cell time
  • Use of force policy changes
  • Grievance reform & the creation of Ombudsman and Inmate Advisory Council
  • Disability reforms 

The settlement provides at least $4 million in attorneys’ fees to RBGG; with $2.1 paid immediately and an additional $1.9 million over 6 years, with the potential for more. Incarcerated people who are class members of this lawsuit will not receive any compensation.

Who We Are: We are concerned community members, organizations, formerly incarcerated people and family members of incarcerated people who believe that the best way to address the harms caused by incarceration is to invest in community infrastructure, not law enforcement or jail expansion. We believe that giving more money to Santa Rita Jail—and allowing it to disguise itself as a mental health provider—is an abuse of power. We have many concerns about the proposed settlement.

 

What are our concerns:  We are concerned that a settlement which gives further funds and staff to ACSO will set a dangerous precedent. After the murder of George Floyd, the movement to defund police gained tremendous momentum and many people want money to instead go to community services. This settlement would disrupt this momentum and give more power to the Sheriff.

 

County funds and construction contracts will be required to implement structural and staffing changes at SRJ. The settlement places decision-making and implementation power in the hands of the County, particularly the Sheriff’s Office and Alameda County Behavioral Healthcare. We have not seen the County willing or able to hold the Sheriff accountable to produce even an itemized budget, let alone stand their ground regarding the inhumane treatment of incarcerated people. We do not have faith that the settlement will change this.