Immigration advocacy group locked out of Contra Costa County jail: report

West County Detention Facility. Photo: Contra Costa County Sheriff

An immigration detainees advocacy group in Contra Costa County has had its volunteer privileges revoked by the sheriff’s department for alleged violation of policies, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The newspaper reported that Sheriff’s Capt. Kristi Butterfield sent an email to the Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement on  Tuesday, informing the San Francisco-based group that it is no longer allowed visitation rights. 

In the email, obtained by the newspaper, Butterfield alleged that CIVIC was engaged in: “habitual violations of policies regarding harassment and discrimination, treatment of offenders, confidentiality, and other ethics agreement violations.”

Emails to both CIVIC and the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday morning were not returned to KTVU.

The advocacy group recently distributed a letter, shining a light on these alleged abuses, which include orcing the inmates to use bags in lieu of toilets while being locked up for hours on end. And they see this visitation ban as a counterattack to the letter, which urged better treatment for the detainees, the Chronicle reported.

The group connects inmates with legal services, documentation, bond payments and a sense of emotional support through visitation, according to CIVIC’s website. 

“We’ve been doing this here since 2011 and we haven’t changed anything we’re doing,” Rebecca Merton, CIVIC’s national visitation coordinator, told the Chronicle. “We’ve never had our clearance revoked before.”

CIVIC is currently working to get its volunteer privileges with the inmates of Contra Costa County back, the Chronicle reported. 

CIVIC has worked in Richmond with 27 inmates at the West County Facility for seven years.