On Friday, the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, PODER (People Organized for the Defense and Equal Rights) plans to gather at 6 p.m. at the Santa Barbara County Jail to stand in solidarity with prison inmates striking nationwide. Though most people involved Friday’s nationwide strike are prison inmates — who are refusing to complete prison labor, likening the system to slavery — Marissa Garcia, a spokesperson for PODER, said the purpose of the County Jail protest is to shine a light on problems for those incarcerated locally.
“Everyone knows the conditions [in the County Jail] are horrible,” said Garcia. She cited overcrowding, leading to some inmates sleeping on the floor, and lack of adequate medical treatment. The County Jail has come under fire in recent years — both for its poor infrastructure and for concerns about inmate medical care. The Sheriff’s Office has acknowledged some of these issues, hiring a grievance coordinator to address complaints, among other remedies. But Garcia said, “The medical care doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”
Garcia said they plan to march and perform spoken word tonight. Asked about the planned event, Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover said only, “We are aware of the protest.”