Santa Rita Jail

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Coordinates: 37°43′2.17″N 121°53′16.53″W / 37.7172694°N 121.8879250°W / 37.7172694; -121.8879250

Santa Rita Jail
LocationDublin, California
Security classCounty Jail

Santa Rita Jail is a county jail located in Dublin, Alameda County, California, adjacent to the Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area, and operated by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. Santa Rita houses the majority of persons arrested in Alameda County, in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, and includes the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro, Fremont and Alameda. Santa Rita is not the only prison facility in the vicinity as the Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin is located on the premises of Camp Parks.

The original Santa Rita Jail was constructed in 1947 on a retired WWII training base near the current site. By 1983, overcrowding had become an issue, and plans were established for the construction of the current $172 million facility, which opened in 1989. Funding for the jail's construction was obtained through state bonds as well as local county matching funds.

The current 113-acre (0.46 km2)[1] facility is laid out in a modern decentralized "campus" design, similar to many modern prisons, one-half mile long by one-quarter mile wide. The facility has 18 separate, self-contained housing units, a "core" building containing central booking, release and administration, and a service building containing the laundry, commissary, kitchen and warehouses. Santa Rita is the third largest jail in California and the fifth largest in the United States, and is considered a "mega-jail", specified to hold 4,000 prisoners at any one time, making it as large or larger than many California state prisons. An automatic robotic cart system moves all meals, laundry, commissary items, supplies and garbage through the jail, allowing maximal restriction of prisoner movement throughout the facility.[2] A 1.2 megawatt peak-power solar array was installed in Spring 2002 on the roofs of the housing units,[1] supplying nearly one half of the jail's power demand during daylight hours.[2] In May 2006, the Chevron Energy Solutions deployed a 1-megawatt fuel cell system that generates 8,000,000 kWh of electricity and 1.4 million British thermal units (410 kWh) of waste heat (50% and 18% of Jail's needs, respectively) from natural gas.[3]

Bomb range[edit]

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office bomb range is located behind the Santa Rita Jail.[4]

It has come into the public eye by being featured in many episodes of MythBusters, and named as their #1 favorite location in their Top 12 Favorite Locations special. The MythBusters will often use this bomb range to safely and legally test myths regarding explosions, projectiles, and many other myths that cannot be tested otherwise without endangering civilians, made possible by the large, open landmass that gave them plenty of room to set their tests up while giving a large distance to stand away from the blasts. In the special episode, Adam Savage praised the flexibility of the bomb range by rhetorically asking "What can't you do there?!"

On December 6, 2011, while conducting an experiment on the effectiveness of various projectiles when fired out of a cannon, a MythBusters television crew sent a cannonball through the side of a house and into a minivan in a nearby Dublin neighborhood. The projectile had missed its intended target and instead soared 700 yd (640 m), striking a house and leaving a 10 in (25 cm) hole, before striking the roof of another house and smashing through a window of a parked minivan.[5][6]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Major portions of Tom Wolfe's novel A Man in Full (1998) take place at Santa Rita Jail, but the facility depicted in the novel was the pre-1989 jail which used World War II-era barrack-style buildings.
  • The Oakland based hip-hop group The Coup has a track titled "Santa Rita Weekend" on their 1994 album, Genocide & Juice.
  • In October 1967, the singer Joan Baez, her mother, and nearly 70 other women were arrested and incarcerated in the Santa Rita Jail for actions during an anti-draft rally. At the jail, where Baez spent eleven days (according to Baez' memoir, she had been sentenced to 45 days, but jail officials abruptly released her early, when they received word that a press conference was being planned for her scheduled release date), she met David Harris, an anti-draft activist whom she would later marry.[7]
  • M.C. Hammer was arrested February 21, 2013, in Dublin for allegedly obstructing an officer in the performance of his duties and resisting an officer (according to "stop and identify" statutes). Hammer claims he was a victim of racial profiling by the police. He stated an officer pulled out his gun and randomly asked him: "Are you on parole or probation?" Hammer stated that as he handed over his ID, the officer reached inside the car and tried to pull him out. Police in Dublin, east of Oakland, said Hammer was in a vehicle with expired registration and he was not the registered owner. "After asking Hammer who the registered owner was, he became very argumentative and refused to answer the officer's questions," police spokesman Herb Walters typed in an e-mail to CNN. Hammer was booked and released from Santa Rita Jail. A court date was scheduled and police have until then to decide on any charges. Hammer tweeted that he wasn't bitter and considered what happened "a teachable moment".[8][9][10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Alameda County Santa Rita jail 1 MW fuel cell CHP system" (PDF). Pacific Region Combined Heat and Power Application Center. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Santa Rita Jail Fuel Cell Power Plant" (PDF). County Of Alameda, California. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Alameda County Santa Rita Jail Fuel Cell Project Overview" (PDF). Alameda County. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  4. ^ Paul Thissen, "Errant 'MythBusters' cannonball hits home in Dublin", Contra Costa Times, December 2011
  5. ^ "'MythBusters' misfire sends cannonball through neighborhood". Los Angeles Times Mythbusters blog. December 7, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  6. ^ "MythBusters stunt sends cannonball flying through Bay Area home". December 6, 2011. Archived from the original on January 15, 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  7. ^ "1967: Joan Baez arrested in Vietnam protest". BBC News. October 16, 1967. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  8. ^
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