Jails Need to Make Sure People Get Home Safe

August 7, 2019

One year ago, when the Alameda County Sheriff's Office released Jessica St. Louis from Santa Rita Jail at 1:30 in the morning, her prospects were bleak. Alone in the darkness, the 26-year-old faced a 40-minute walk, along desolate roads, past about a dozen vacant lots, to the Dublin-Pleasanton BART station. And then once at the station, she would have to wait three hours for the trains to start running.

She never made it to a train. She was found dead at 5:30 a.m., July 28, 2018, of an opioid overdose, just outside the BART station.

Jessica St. Louis' death was preventable. Releasing people in the dead of night without access to transportation — or a working cellphone — is cruel and unnecessary treatment. That's why I introduced legislation last fall, Senate Bill 42, the Getting Home Safe Act, to end this deplorable practice.

SB 42 would require jails throughout California to provide people who are eligible for release during evening and nighttime hours with the option of remaining in a safe waiting area — not behind bars — until morning.

For the full op-ed, click here.