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No Super Bowl party for inmates after jailhouse wine confiscated

Santa Rita Jail
Hundreds of gallons of jailhouse wine were confiscated at the Santa Rita Jail on Saturday.
(Alameda County Sheriff’s Department)

Like many in the Bay Area, the inmates at the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County were looking forward to watching Super Bowl 2020. But the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department put the kibosh on a party they were planning.

Hundreds of gallons of jailhouse wine were confiscated Saturday at the Santa Rita Jail. The concoction of fruit, juices, sugar and yeast — known as pruno — was stored in plastic bags and stashed inside toilets and garbage bags throughout the jail, Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said.

The department proudly displayed its findings Sunday in an Instagram post, with a photo of deputies standing behind dozens of bags filled with supplies for the homemade hooch.

“Illegally made jail house alcohol from fruit and juice. There will be no Super Bowl party at Santa Rita Jail tomorrow. Good work by our team on duty today,” the post said.

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Despite the contraband, inmates were allowed to watch the game and no one was officially reprimanded, Kelly said. But much like the planned party, the Super Bowl proved to be a letdown, with the Kansas City Chiefs rolling over the hometown San Francisco 49ers, 31-20.

“Nothing happened to the inmates. We’re not looking to get anyone in trouble. It’s a violation of the jail, but it’s not criminal,” he said.

The wine concoction has been previously linked to severe illnesses and even deaths and can pose a major health risk. While some on social media approved of the confiscation, several criticized the deputies’ actions and ensuing post on social media.

According to Kelly, it was meant to be a “tongue and cheek” revelation of what can sometimes occur in lockdown. It’s not uncommon for officials to discover jailhouse wine in small batches, he said, because several of the inmates in the minimum-security jail have access to the kitchen.

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“It’s a typical cops-and-robbers scenario.”


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