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Several Alameda County Correctional deputies have been arrested and will be firedfor their alleged misconduct at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California.
The charges they face involve allowing and directing inmates to throw urine and feces at one another.
“It has shocked the conscience of our entire agency, it is a terrible event,” Sheriff Greg Ahern said.
Inmates usually target guards by “gassing” them this way but in this case, it was orchestrated by four rookie guards.
“It can’t be explained, it can’t be understood, we are embarrassed, shocked, and ashamed and that’s why we took such harsh actions.”
Two-year deputies Justin Linn and Erik McDermott were implicated in multiple incidents beginning in 2016.
Deputies Stephen Sarcos and Sarah Krause, each with three years experience, were involved in a January 2017 incident and it was this one that brought the situation to light.
According to Sheriff Ahern, suspicions arose when one inmate told a deputy that he had been gassed in his maximum security cell at 2:30 am while Krause and Sarcos were on duty.
“They either leave a door unlocked, or a cuffing port unlocked and the inmate would be able to leave their cell and access to another individual’s cell.”
Tash Nguyen of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights says, “Pitting inmates against one another, that’s not surprising to us.”
She says the jail has a long history of issues including several deaths and multi-million dollar settlements that have been paid for inmates who were either left untreated by staff or were injured by them.
“Folks are not being fed adequate meals, they’re not getting their health care, not getting their mental health care,” declared Nguyen, “because it’s not a culture of care and healing, it’s a culture of harm and punishment.”
Sheriff Ahern says he has no idea why the guards would do what they did but he has put his jail staff on notice that the care, custody and control of inmates is a trust.
“These individuals broke that trust with inmates, with the public, and they broke the trust with me,” he said, “and I have no place in the agency for any actions like this whatsoever.”
Ahern has also brought a commander out of retirement to help review all of the body camera footage from the jail. These particular incidents were not caught on camera but they want to make sure there are not other incidents they should be aware of.
All four of those accused self-surrendered on Thursday and were released by late afternoon.