Advocates Demand Inmate Release At Santa Rita Jail As Coronavirus Outbreak Spreads

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

Demonstrators in Dublin are demanding the release of inmates from Santa Rita Jail after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases there.

About two dozen people chanted with face masks, signs and black shirts to call on Alameda County Sheriff’s Department officials to free their loved ones from jail. The call to action comes in response to an outbreak at the Santa Rita Jail, where the number of cases has soared past 100.

Sikander Iqbal told KCBS Radio his friend, who’s an inmate at the jail, is currently battling the virus and has not received the care he needs.

"I'm homeless right now," he said. "I don't know what to do. I don't have money and I can't get a job."

Advocates are concerned the virus will only continue to spread and harm public health if people remain locked up. Crowded conditions in jails have led to outbreaks at facilities around the country, including a large-scale surge at San Quentin State Prison.

Alameda County officials have said there are more than 1,800 inmates at the Santa Rita Jail.

None of the inmates have died because of the virus and, generally, all inmates have had mild to moderate symptoms.

There’s now an education campaign taking place to make sure inmates know to wear face masks outside their cells.