A statement released Thursday by the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office released a statement Thursday accusing an immigrant rights group of passing contraband to inmates. Providing inmates with contraband is a crime and the accused group was banned from visiting ICE detainees.
<a href="https://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/180308-civic-clearance-revocation-2.pdf">In the Sheriff's statement,</a> he provides reports where members of the group CIVIC, (Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement) accused the sheriff's office of retaliating against them for publicizing allegations that ICE detainees were being mistreated. The accusations were levied against the West Contra Costa Detention Facility in Richmond.
"CIVIC’s reckless accusation that they are the victim of retaliation is complete nonsense," the sheriff’s office said. "They knew and understood jail facility rules and procedures and violated them." The sheriff's statement goes on to accuse 20 volunteers with the group called CIVIC of violating policies put in place for groups visiting the jail to interact with the inmates.
The volunteers were found to have sent "contraband to incarcerated persons" and relayed messages to family and friends of detainees as well as gave out their personal phone numbers and addresses. The sheriff's statement also accuses the group of depositing money into accounts of incarcerated inmates.
The statement did not identify which types of contraband the volunteers smuggled but the group known as CIVIC maintains they never gave anything to inmates. CIVIC released a three-page statement Thursday saying they never broke any jail rules. They did admit to providing up to $20 of commissary money which they say was raised through donations.
Christina Mansfield, co-founder of CIVIC, said, "The money we provide people in ICE detention so they can buy food serves as a major source of revenue for the facility along with the phone calls. Both commissary items and phone calls are exorbitantly priced. Up until now, the money we have been sending to people in ICE detention has served the facility just fine."
"But now that we are speaking out against the system, the facility has decided that we no longer are serving them and we must be silenced," Mansfield said.
Assistant Sheriff Matt Schuler said in the sheriff's office own statement, "The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff welcomes and partners with numerous community-based organizations and non-governmental groups to assist incarcerated persons with their rehabilitation and re-entry back to their communities when they are released."
CIVIC still alleges the sheriff's ban on the group was retaliation for criticizing the sheriff's office over alleged mistreatment of female detainees. Christina Fialho, a CIVIC co-founder, also responded to the sheriff's statement saying, "In terminating our program, the Sheriff’s Department and ICE are not just trying to punish us, they are trying to send a message to other activists to stay silent. We will not be silenced."
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