Nov 4th: Locked Down, Locked Out – Bay Area Book Launch & Conversation

Please help spread the word…

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Join us November 4th, for conversation, snacks, beverages, contemplation and celebration, for the Bay Area launch of “Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better“!

Author Maya Schenwar will read from her book and discuss the impact of prison on families and communities – and how people around the country are taking action to create a world without prison.

CURB will also have two special speakers there!

  • Alex Berliner, new Organizer with All of Us or None a Project of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, will talk about her experience with having a loved one inside.
  • Emily Harris, Statewide Coordinator of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), will speak about the movement to reduce prison populations and close prisons throughout the state of California.

Join CURB members, allies, friends for conversation, snacks, beverages, contemplation and celebration!

Maya interviewed me about CURB for the publication and now thanks to her, all royalties from book sales at the event will go to CURB!
See Michelle Alexendar and Angela Davis’ reviews of the book on our event RSVP.

Can’t make it to the event?  Make a donation to CURB in solidarity!

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You have until Oct. 6th!

 

Dear Supporter,

Jails are ruining the health and well being of our communities!

The LA Chief Executive office says that the environmental review process will take place, but there are signs that old background documents are being used and reason for concern that the process may not include very important health hazards known to the county health officials about the Antelope Valley’s high rate of Valley Fever infection, especially among people who have not grown up there. We know them well enough to remain skeptical and keep fighting.

This is one of the many reasons why we need you to take action before Oct. 6th when the public comment period is over! 

After you take action, save these dates:

1) The Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to renew the LA jail’s relationship with ICE. Our allies, ICE out of LA, will be at the meeting to speak out against renewing this contract, and we want you to be there! can you join them? RSVP here!

Where: 500 W Temple Street, LA

When: Tuesday, September 30th at 8:30am

2) Then, join us at the Dignity and Power Now Custody Town Hall, a panel discussion about the LA county Sheriffs department custody division. We will be discussing a range of topics, from the sheriff’s use of force, to alternatives to incarceration. RSVP here! 

Where: Meracado la Paloma, 3655 S Grande Ave, LA

When: Thursday, October 2nd, 6-8pm.

I hope to see you at this two upcoming events!

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Environmental Hazards at Proposed Women’s Jail Site!

Dear Supporter,

Jails are ruining the health and well being of our communities!

Last week, some of the Los Angeles No More Jails group attended the Initial Environmental Impact meeting and today some of us are at the Board of Supervisors to make sure they follow this process.

We were alarmed to hear last week that the site has hazardous material above and beneath it, has poor air quality, and that the potential for infectious disease and increased water use in an area already suffering from a historic water shortage.

We were therefore shocked to find out last night that there is a push to exempt this project from the environmental impact review process required by state law.

The Board of Supervisors is potentially authorizing the building of a women’s jail that hasn’t had an Environmental Impact Review since at least 1997.

Please send a letter to the Chief Executive Office and all members of the LA Board of Supervisors right now.

We are asking that the project go through the full environmental impact review process as well as that there be two additional public meetings with legitimate notice to the community so that we can discuss these issues before the final report is drafted.

We know that the people in women’s jails – already the residents of Los Angeles most impacted by environmental hazards and the epidemics of disease – don’t deserve another jail that will be bad for their health and well-being. Make sure that the County Supervisors know you are watching and expect them to protect the health and environmental well-being of all the county’s residents.  Please make our voice heard today.

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Catch Ruthie Gilmore in LA! Twice this week

Dear Supporter,

Thursday, Sept. 25th:

“Too Soon for Sorry: Abolition Geography and the Problem of Innocence”

Friday/Saturday, Sept. 26/27:

Justice on Trial Film Festival

I’m thrilled to announce that Professor Ruthie Wilson Gilmore, is speaking at Pitzer College on September 25th!  Ruthie Gilmore is a founding member of CURB and also part of our National Advisory Board.

As a student at the Claremont College, and an intern with CURB, I was so excited to hear that Professor Gilmore had been selected to give the 26th Annual Sojourner Truth Lecture. As CURB and LA No More Jails Coalition continues fighting the $2.3 billion jail expansion plans in LA county, I am looking forward to her visiting our campuses to speak on the ongoing strides against the Prison System.

Her lecture “Too Soon For Sorry: Abolition Geography and the Problem of innocence” will begin at 7:30pm Thursday 25th of September in the McConnell Founders Room at Pitzer College.

Another amazing event this weekend, on the 26th from 5-9pm and 27th 5-9pm, is the Justice on Trial Film Festival at the Cal State Long Beach University Theater! 

They will be screening When Will the Punishment End, Elementary Genocide, Crime After Crime, and other great films, which are all focused on the current carceral regime. Ruthie Gilmore will also be a featured speaker at the Justice on Trial Film Festival! Get your tickets here!

Spread the word about these two great events and I hope to see you there!

Thank you,


Claire Hirschberg
Policy & Advocacy Intern
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
 


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Community Members Raise Environmental Impact Concerns of Controversial Los Angeles Women’s Jail Build

For Immediate Release – Sept 17, 2014

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Diana Zuñiga, Californians United for a Responsible Budget diana@curbprisonspending.org or 213-864-8931

What: Public Environmental Impact Report and Scoping Meeting
When: Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 6:00 PM
Where: American Heroes Park – Community Room, 701 W. Kettering Ave., Lancaster.
Who: Advocates, community leaders, and concerned citizens will be there for public comment.

CURB’s Letter RE Initial Environmental Impact Report 9.17.14

Los Angeles— Plans to build a new 1,604-bed jail for women in the City of Lancaster at the vacant Mira Loma Detention Center have generated responses of confusion and outrage in Los Angeles County and across the state.  At Thursday’s public scoping meeting citizens are asking for two additional public meetings to be scheduled after the first Draft Environment Impact Report (DEIR) is released—one meeting in Lancaster and one in the greater Los Angeles area—and they demand the DEIR be translated into Spanish to allow for more public input into this process.  They are demanding that the Environmental Impact Study address, in depth, the environmental conditions that would impact the health of those who would be incarcerated on the premises as well as their families and children, and people employed at the jail.

“The City of Lancaster and Los Angeles County do not need more jail cells, and there isn’t any support in the community to build them,” says César M. Vega Magallón of Antelope Valley Dream Team.  “Lancaster residents, like the rest of Los Angeles County, struggle every day with substandard housing, over-crowded schools, a lack of social services, low-wage jobs, dirty industry mixed in with residential sites, industrial truck traffic, few healthy fooScreen Shot 2014-09-17 at 12.39.36 PMd outlets, and severe air pollution.  The proposed cost of building and operating yet another jail in the Antelope Valley would best be spent on resources that preempt the need for jails.  For the growing Latino and immigrant populations in the AV, funding prisons and jails over the community’s basic necessities is irresponsible at best, and at worst it’s downright destructive.”

The initial report states the location has non-attainment for Particulates and has severe non-attainment for Ozone, which can negatively impact the health of people in this particular region.  Ozone is a cause of asthma and has been determined to cause harmful effects on people with respiratory issues and other vulnerabilities.

“The proposed women’s jail will pull families apart and damage the health of the people incarcerated.  Realignment was implemented to help prisoners’ transition into the community and keep them closer to their supportive network.  Sending people from Lynwood to Lancaster, a nearly 80 mile commute, will interfere with their ability to interact and be with their loved ones, the very people who aid in the process of rehabilitation and overcoming the traumas of imprisonment,” says Cindy Delgado of the Youth Justice Coalition. “The imprisoned women of Los Angeles need support and alternatives based in the community, not another jail that will destroy their health and well-being.”

The site is “identified in government databases as having a hazardous waste generator and is [also] the site of aboveground and underground fuel storage tanks,” according to the initial report.  Previous studies reported in an article titled Death Dust, by Dana Goodyear, in the New Yorker (January 2014) states, “The highest rate of infection is in the Antelope Valley, a rapidly developing outpost of the county that adjoins the southern edge of the San Joaquin Valley.  In the past decade, the number of [valley fever] cases has increased by five hundred and forty-five percent.”  There is no analysis of valley fever in the initial report.

“We don’t need more jails,” Mary Sutton of Critical Resistance. “There are dozens of innovative policy initiatives used in other counties that have proven to reduce the jail population, increase public safety and save taxpayer dollars.  Why not implement them in Los Angeles?  Not to mention all the health implications that come along with this irresponsible and costly jail plan.”

Lastly, in consideration of California facing a historic drought, the initial report further notes that Antelope Valley has been engaged in a drawn out adjudication process to decide if property owners or public water suppliers have the rights to the scarce amount of water available.

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Exposing a national crisis in Black mental health behind bars

Printed September 10, 2014 in the SF BayView

by Mark-Anthony Johnson

When Dr. Samuel Cartwright coined the term “drapetomania” in 1864, he advanced a historical agenda to secure Black subjugation in America. Cartwright’s diagnosis of the desire for freedom amongst enslaved Africans as a form of psychosis exposes two important realities about mental health in the United States.On Aug. 12, Mark-Anthony Johnson and Lynwood social worker Kristina Ronnquist pause at the entrance of the United Nations in Geneva, where they submitted the Dignity and Power Now report, “Impact of Disproportionate Incarceration and Abuse of Black People with Mental Health Conditions in World’s Largest Jail System“ for review of U.S. compliance with the International Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

On Aug. 12, Mark-Anthony Johnson and Lynwood social worker Kristina Ronnquist pause at the entrance of the United Nations in Geneva, where they submitted the Dignity and Power Now report, Impact of Disproportionate Incarceration and Abuse of Black People with Mental Health Conditions in World’s Largest Jail System.“ for review of U.S. compliance with the International Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

First, the mental health of people of color in the United States, specifically Black people, is not a neutral arena. It is a critical battleground where racist ideologies have leveraged medical justifications for restricting Black people’s freedom.

Secondly, the mental health infrastructure in the United States, and lack thereof, is an expression of the historical agenda that Dr. Cartwright’s claim to fame represents. Promoting “drapetomania” as a clinical diagnosis only a year before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed posed strategic value to the Confederacy, which was being threatened by a civil war and needing to refine its justifications for chattel slavery in the United States.

The current crisis of criminalizing and incarcerating Black people with mental health conditions across the country is an extension of these two historical trends.

Dignity-Power-Now-UN-report-cover-0814Over a period of two days, the United States was questioned and challenged by 18 U.N. committee experts who critiqued the nation’s deficiencies in addressing racial disparities. Our shadow report was an intervention not only in the local county conversation, but also on an international stage to expose a national crisis of criminalizing Black people’s mental health in the United States.

What does this crisis look like?

On any given day, Black people are six times more likely than White people to be incarcerated in the United States, and 63 percent of those Black people in local jails across the country have some form of a mental health condition (2006). Los Angeles makes key contributions to this trend, as Black people are 9 percent of the county population and 43.7 percent of its jail population diagnosed with “serious mental illness.”

Dignity & Power Now UN report cover 0814The factors that account for this disproportionate impact are numerous. Black people, for example, are more likely to be misdiagnosed and at the same time less likely to receive the most effective treatments. Black people with mental health conditions are two to three times more likely than people of other races to be incarcerated as limited access to services increases the risk of incarceration.

The lack of community services, barriers to accessing them and lack of quality treatment upon access results in a systemic equation whereby “treatment” for Black people means incarceration.

Los Angeles is the largest jail system in the world. Additionally, the three largest mental health “treatment” facilities in the country – Los Angeles’ Twin Towers, Chicago’s Cook County Jail, and Rikers Island in New York – are all jail facilities.

In fact the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that California needed to reduce its overcrowding that was exposing prisoners to greater risks of violence, medical neglect and abuse, lack of mental health care, and death. The realization that jails operate as de facto mental health facilities has gained more traction in recent years; however, the response has not been comprehensive or substantial enough to remedy the problem.

The situation of the mentally ill in jail is so dangerous and oppressive that the Department of Justice found unconstitutional conditions for the mental health population in  LA County Jail system (May 2014) and a high level of physical abuse and the violations of rights for adolescents in New York’s Rikers Island Jail – particularly those with mental health conditions (August 2014). That tells us that the crisis persists.

Dr. Samuel Cartwright’s term “drapetomania,” coined in 1864, labeled the desire for freedom amongst enslaved Africans as a form of psychosis.
In fact, since the Civil Rights of Incarcerated Peoples Act was passed in 1997, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has found violations of the constitutional rights of people with mental health conditions in 35 correctional facilities across 25 states. Los Angeles is just one of the more recent exposures.

Despite these conditions, the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics has no mechanism for the regular collecting of intersectional data based on the race and gender of incarcerated people with mental health conditions across the country. This creates serious barriers to monitoring the local and national trends.

Why is Los Angeles relevant?

As Los Angeles County develops plans for the diversion of people with mental health needs from the jails, it is also expanding jail capacity. It continues to stay the course despite the copious evidence and stories from our loved ones leaving the jails, that incarceration exacerbates mental health conditions.

In fact, in recent years there has been a movement for specialized detention facilities that are being couched as more responsive to the needs of prisoners. Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) has been pushing back against the county and state push for “gender responsive” prisons and jails – the tagline for women’s facilities.

Though Los Angeles County claims to be planning to divert many mentally ill people from jail, its new jail plan is to tear down Men’s Central and erect a new “mental health jail” for the high number of mentally ill in the jail now.

Guest commentary in the LA Daily News by Patrisse Cullors-Brignac of Dignity and Power Now (DPN) and Diana Zuñiga of CURB explains why those of us fighting jail expansion think A mental health jail is an oxymoron; diversion is what’s needed.

The push for category specific incarceration further entrenches our loved ones into a system that cannot protect their rights, safety or humanity. In fact, Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald recently reported to the Board of Supervisors that there has been a 47 percent increase in use of force at Century Regional Detention Facility, Los Angeles County’s dedicated women’s jail facility.

She attributed this increase to the rise in the mental health population at the facility. The pursuit of both mental health diversion and jail expansion undermines any comprehensive effort to address the crisis at its root.

A comprehensive diversion program would make use of services that have already proven to be effective, including Full Service Partnerships and Aggressive Community Treatment. Additionally, it is important that we are imaginative in how we envision the services our people deserve.

Job training and permanent job placement, permanent housing, and supportive services that include the intimate networks of those directly impacted are key to the long-term sustainability of mental health diversion.

The logic underlying the continuation and funding of the mass incarceration of the disproportionately Black mentally ill and Dr. Cartwright’s medical breakthroughs is the same: Black people’s mental health cannot be achieved, so society has to maintain extreme and inhumane restrictions on their freedom.

Mark-Anthony Johnson is a member of Dignity and Power Now (DPN) (www.endsheriffviolence.org). DPN, a multi-racial grassroots organization in Los Angeles and a member organization of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), fights for the dignity and power of incarcerated people and survivors of sheriff violence and their families with the goal of ending state violence and mass incarceration. Mark-Anthony and DPN can be reached at endsheriffviolence@gmail.com and can receive mail at the CURB LA office: P.O. Box 73688, LA CA 90003.

 

 

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Thank You from #NoMoreJails

Dear Supporter,

My name is Christina and I have been working with Los Angeles No More Jails (LANMJ) as a member of Critical Resistance LA for the past few months.  I am now taking the CURB Media Internship to help our Los Angeles crew persuade more Angelenos to stand up and speak out against jail expansion.

Los Angeles No More Jails is thanking all of you for coming out and participating in our #NoMoreJails Caravan last month.

I was inspired to see so many people from various organizations in Southern California all teaming up to voice their opposition to the proposed construction of the 1,604-bed jail for women at the former Mira Loma Detention Center.

It was amazing to see the use of the hashtag #NoMoreJails across several social media platforms, which captured the momentum of the day and still continues to extend the life of our unified opposition against expansion.

Thank you to all that came out to document and experience this important day.  Our presence was seen and felt through the inspiring photographs taken from our rally at Lynwood and creative action in Lancaster, and also the media coverage that we continue to share out. 

Expansion is happening everywhere, and we are sick of it.  This wasn’t our first fight and it won’t be our last.  Thanks again for your continued support in strengthening this fight against expansion. And please contact us if you want to get more involved!

Looking forward,


Christina Tsao
Media Intern for Californians United for a Responsible Budget

             


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Announcement – 2 Fall Anti-Prison Internships 

Fall 2014

Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) has two exciting internships available in our Oakland or Los Angeles office.  We are looking for enthusiastic, self-starting, hardworking candidates.  We are a statewide alliance of organizations working to curb prison spending by reducing the number of people in prison and the number of prisons in California.

Development Internship overview:

CURB is seeking an Intern who can assist the organization in some of the following areas: generating broad community support for reducing the number of people in prison in California; cultivating relationships with potential & current donors; coordinating the logistics of various fundraising activities (direct mailings, thank you cards, events etc.), supporting grant writing and media campaigns; maintaining organizational website & social media; assisting with administrative tasks; helping with grassroots organizing and outreach efforts; recruiting future interns and other duties as necessary.

The internship provides the opportunity to gain experience in grassroots fundraising, research, outreach, grant writing, grassroots organizing, media campaigns, coalition and movement building. Working directly with the Statewide Coordinator & Field Organizer the intern will have the opportunity to develop leadership, organizing & development skills while working alongside an amazing group of anti-prison activists.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Strong written and verbal communications skills
  • Solid computer, social media and editing skills
  • Prior fundraising or community organizing experience
  • Commitment to racial and social justice or a background in prison issues
  • Interest in building grassroots fundraising skills and working in a small organization with limited resources
  • Available to attend weekly meetings on Thursdays from 2pm-3pm


Organizing and Advocacy Internship
 overview:

CURB is seeking an Intern who can assist the organization in some of the following areas: generating broad community support for reducing the number of people in prison in California; maintaining connections between CURB and people inside prison through written correspondence; supporting media campaigns; maintaining organizational website; assisting with administrative tasks; helping with grassroots organizing and outreach efforts; supporting legislative advocacy; recruiting future interns and volunteers; help expand our current volunteer program and other duties as necessary.

The internship provides the opportunity to gain experience in research, outreach, grassroots organizing, media campaigns, coalition and movement building, public education, policy advocacy and social justice work. Working directly with the Statewide Coordinator and Field Organizer the intern(s) will have the opportunity to develop leadership and organizing skills while working alongside an amazing group of anti-prison activists.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Strong written and verbal communications skills
  • Solid computer skills
  • Prior community organizing or advocacy experience
  • Commitment to racial and social justice or a background in prison issues
  • Interest in working in a small organization with limited resources
  • Available to attend monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of the month from 6-8pm

Interns are asked to make a minimum commitment of 3 months to the organization and to meet a number of work hours agreed upon in advance with the alliance. All positions are unpaid, opportunity to receive school credit or funding is allowed if offered by the candidates program.

Californians United for a Responsible Budget is committed to investing in the leadership of people of color and formerly incarcerated people.  All interested individuals, including women, people of color, formerly incarcerated people, and queer and trans people are encouraged to apply.

To apply, e-mail your resume, and cover letter, to Emily Harris at emily@curbprisonspending.org. Please put “CURB Internship” in the subject line and let us know which Internship you are applying for and which office you’d want to work in.  Feel free to contact Emily with any questions 510-435-1176.

Our Oakland office is located near the corner of Webster and 14th St. and is served by the 12th Street BART, and multiple bus lines. The office is wheelchair accessible.

Our Los Angeles office is located at the Chuco’s Justice Center at 1137 E. Redondo Blvd. in Inglewood.  The office is not wheelchair accessible.

For more information about CURB visit: www.curbprisonspending.org to read more about our current interns visit: http://curbprisonspending.org/about/meet-the-interns/

 

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End Police Violence & Mass Incarceration in Ferguson and Everywhere

We stand with the family of Mike Brown, the people of Ferguson, and those traveling from across the country to Missouri this weekend for the Black Lives Matter Ride, as they continue to stand up for justice and fight back against state violence in our communities.  Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 12.29.26 PM

We continue to envision a world where deadly racism doesn’t plague our communities, where policing and imprisonment are not used to answer the social and economic problems we endures.

What we are seeing in Ferguson reminds us of all the Black and Brown, named and unnamed, who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. We continue to stand with and fight for Ferguson after Mike Brown’s murder; Oakland after Oscar Grant’s murder; Santa Cruz after Frank Alvarez’s murder; Los Angeles after Ezell Ford’s murder; and countless other communities who continue to endure police brutality, arrest and imprisonment.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.51.17 PMRacism is a core component of our criminal legal system. From police contact, to arrest, to charges, to convictions, to sentences, to parole: racism determines who moves to the next step in the system and how inhumanely people are treated along the way.

While Black people are 13% of the US population, they make up more than a third of those killed by police across the country. Here in California – like the rest of the nation – Black men are dramatically more likely to be imprisoned than any other group of people. Black men are 6.6% of our state population but 29% of our prison population.

This weekend, we encourage you to follow the Black Life Matters Ride,” a national call to action and a slogan under which Black people can unite to end state-sanctioned violence in Ferguson and across the country.

The lives and losses of our people inside and outside the prison walls will not be forgotten. We ask that you stand with us as we continue to organize against these assaults on our communities.

In solidarity and unity,

Diana Zuñiga
Statewide Field Organizer

Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Patrisse Cullors-Brignac
Dignity and Power Now
A member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget

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Aug: 20th – Los Angeles Letter to the Editor Training

CURB’s media team has developed a Letter to the Editor Training, to help facilitate the creation of our Letter to the Editor Rapid Response Team. url(1)The next training will be next week Los Angeles!

Letters to the editor are a quick and easy way to influence reporters, editorial boards and public opinion and a great way to practice our arguments and talking points.

All CURB members and people working with LA No More Jails are invited and welcome to participate. Please join us on Wednesday, August 20 from 6pm-7:30pm. We’ll send a reminder, materials and the agenda prior to the training to all folks who RSVP.

RSVP Here—> http://bit.ly/LTE-LA

 

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