Two San Francisco prisons closed due to attacks on workers; union calls for National Guard

(San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst N/San Francisco Chronicle via Gett)

Two San Francisco prisons closed due to attacks on workers; union calls for National Guard

California Politics

Mackenzie Mays

April 14, 2024

Two San Francisco County jails closed this weekend due to increasing assaults of officers and other staff by inmates in the facilities, officials said.

Since late March, seven jail employees have been injured in altercations with the incarcerated people they were supposed to supervise, said Tara Moriarty, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office.

“Some of these attacks have resulted in serious injuries,” Moriarty said in an interview


released on Saturday. “The lockdown has come into force to protect everyone who works, stays or visits our prisons.”

The lockdown, which is expected to end next week, means all visits and programs will be canceled, leaving the more than 1,100 incarcerated people in the two Bay Area jails confined to their cells.

Affected affected

Prisons include the county’s only women’s facility and the San Bruno location.

“We are actively investigating these incidents to determine their root causes and possible correlation,” Moriarty said. “It is imperative that we identify and address the factors contributing to these attacks to prevent future occurrences.”

The San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s donkey


n., the union that represents

affected affected

workers, called on local leaders to deploy the California National Guard to make up for understaffing in county jails and strengthen security.

“Recent incidents, including an alarming increase in inmate fights, attacks on inmates by other inmates, and injuries to civilian employees and sheriff’s deputies, highlight the urgent need for additional staff and resources within the Sheriff’s Office,”

San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association Union

President Ken Lomba said in a letter to officials including Mayor London Breed and Aaron Peskin, chairman of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

According to Lomba, attacks on deputies increased from 121 in 2022 to 216 in 2023.

In the letter, Lomba points to a recent study from Washington State University showing high rates of mental health problems and fatigue among San Francisco Sheriff’s Office employees, a problem the union says is exacerbated by overtime to compensate for understaffing to go.

Nationally, a shortage of corrections staff has escalated concerns about the quality of life for both inmates and workers, as the inmate population in some facilities increases while staffing decreases.

Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom approved more than $1 billion in pay raises and benefits for prison guards in California in response to similar concerns.

In recent weeks, some San Francisco County jails have failed to meet staffing minimums, with as many as eight deputies dropping some shifts, the newspaper said.

San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association Union


Moriarty said the association’s request to call in the National Guard is “premature” and unnecessary, but said the agency shares concerns about security issues and will address them internally.

“We understand that the DSA is also linking the recent incidents to low staffing levels and has called for immediate staffing,” she said in an email on Sunday. “The National Guard is not the answer to staffing shortages. The sheriff remains committed to filling vacancies, recruiting and hiring.”


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