November 13, 2019
Sheriff David Livingston
County of Contra Costa
651 Pine Street, Seventh Floor
Martinez, California 94553
Dear Sheriff Livingston,
I am writing regarding the issue of late night releases from county jails. This is an issue of critical importance to the safety and well-being of individuals in your care, especially women, transgender individuals and others who may be at higher risk for targeted violence and predation during late night hours in and around county jail facilities-especially facilities that are geographically isolated or in high-crime areas of cities.
Sadly there have been several high-profile deaths in recent years of women of color who have been released from county jail facilities during the early morning hours under conditions that were frankly foreseeably dangerous. Mitrice Richardson and Jessica St. Louis are just two names on an unacceptably long list of individuals who have been victimized in part due to this unsafe practice.
You have the power to protect people like Mitrice and Jessica, and I urge you to do so in your county by seeking ways to eliminate late night jail releases for those who do not have the ability to safely return home during those times. I stand ready to support you in changing these practices, but urge you to start the process immediately by reviewing and amending your jail discharge procedures. Sufficient planning should be done to ensure that, whenever possible, discharges occur during daytime or early evening hours or when individuals otherwise will have access to safe transportation. As you are aware, state law authorizes you to allow individuals to voluntarily stay in your facilities for up to 16 additional hours or until normal business hours, whichever is shorter, in order to offer the ability to be discharged to a treatment center or during daytime hours. If you do not currently offer such a program, I encourage you to do so.
At a bare minimum, every jail facility should allow individuals to wait in a safe waiting area with access to phone charging and telephones to arrange for safe transportation.
I thank you for your attention to this matter, and invite you to reach out to my office to discuss further.