I’m an undocumented and unafraid organizer with the Immigrant Youth Coalition. A few weeks ago, I attended my first CURB lobby day, along with other immigrant community members impacted by incarceration, detention, and deportation.
It was so powerful to see community members from across the state coming together to share stories, advocate for care and not cages, and make elected officials aware of these issues. My uncle was incarcerated, detained in immigration detention, deported, and separated from his two little daughters.
More than 50 people came out to tell legislators to stop prioritizing jails over people and to start investing in our communities. Seeing the familiar — and new — faces of CURB members fill the halls of the Capitol was a powerful demonstration of the capacity of our coalition. (Check out the photos on our Facebook page!)
And we aren’t done. With just a few clicks, you can take part in CURB’s next step –a Thunderclap to synchronize our message for #NoMoreJails and #CareNotCages on social media, amplifying our voices so we can break through and be heard.
Through May and June, the legislature and governor will continue finalizing the budget. They heard us loud and clear on April 7, and we’ll need to keep the pressure on to make sure they stop pouring more money into jails and prisons.
We know that we couldn’t do this work without you, and we want to thank you for your dedication. Help us spread a message on the budget that can’t be ignored!
We in the Alameda County Jail Fight Coalition invite you to join us in a community forum to build grassroots power against Alameda County’s $54 million mental health jail project. We believe that this money should instead be spent prioritizing community-based mental health treatment not more incarceration capacity at the Santa Rita Jail.
We will provide an overview of what’s currently happening with the fight, learn from organizers who defeated San Francisco’s new jail, and then we will split into three breakout groups to develop three main strategies: base-building, media, and legislative.
When: Thursday, May 5th from 6-8:30pm, with free food and child care provided
Where: First Unitarian Church of Oakland (685 14th St., Oakland, CA 94612)
The First Unitarian Church is wheelchair accessible, with gender-neutral restrooms. This will be a fragrance-free event. Please refrain from wearing scents such as perfumes/colognes, scented lotions, clothing with strong detergent scents, etc.
Alameda County Jail Fight Coalition and Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget
P.S. Are you a mental health worker? Are you connected with mental health workers? Then fill out and share this survey we’ve created to gather data on the conditions people with mental health needs who cycle through the criminal justice system face and on the gaps in Alameda County’s continuum of care.
For immediate release – April 25, 2016
Contact: Glenn Backes 916-202-2538
Reconsideration Granted – Needs 3 More Votes to Pass
Sacramento—A bill to repeal ineffective and costly sentencing enhancements for prior drug convictions fell short of the votes needed to pass the California State Senate today. It is eligible to be brought up again for consideration in coming days to see if the necessary votes can be garnered.
SB 966, authored by Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, had strong support from most Democratic Senators, who in debate described it as an issue of racial justice for Latinos and African Americans who are disproportionately targeted for long sentences, even though drug use and drug sale is equally prevalent in all racial and ethnic groups. It was also described as an end to an expensive policy that has failed to effectively deter drug sales or drug use.
The bill would maintain the current base penalty for possession for sale of a controlled substance of two to four years, or for sale of a drug, a penalty up to five years. It would repeal the section of code that adds an additional three years for each prior conviction – convictions for which people have already been punished, and result in some people being sentenced to more than ten years in county jail, even though they have no prior convictions.
The bill needs 21 votes to pass the Senate. Today, 18 Democratic Senators voted in favor of the bill. All 14 Republicans and three Democrats opposed.
Five Senators abstained, neither voting Aye nor No: Senator Hertzberg of the San Fernando Valley, Senator Hueso of San Diego & Imperial, Senator Jackson of Santa Barbara, Senator Mendoza of Whittier, and Senator Wolk of Davis/Fairfield.
Things are moving swiftly for SB 966 (Mitchell), the RISE Act! The RISE Act would repeal the three-year sentence enhancement for prior drug convictions, and is an important step towards reducing imprisonment and freeing up resources to invest in communities.
The RISE Act will be up for a vote before the full Senate this Thursday, and we need residents of greater Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Orange County, and other areas to target your senator today!
Thanks to the power of our action network, more than 100 organizations have already sent in letters of support for the RISE Act. But law enforcement is pulling out all the stops to maintain their power to imprison our communities by killing this bill.
These enhancements have resulted in sentencing thousands of people — mainly young men and women of color — to long periods of incarceration in brutal state prisons and county jails, destabilizing families and communities. Meanwhile, drugs are cheaper, stronger and more widely available than any time in our state’s history.
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
P.S. Can you forward this to at least five other people? Your senator needs to hear from your community!
If you can’t join us in the Capitol, email and call your legislators now to tell them to stop prioritizing prisons over people!
First, we’ll be calling on lawmakers to reject the governor’s proposal for another $250 million for jail expansion at a Senate budget hearing. Then we’ll visit legislators to advocate for sustainable solutions by reducing incarceration through the passage of SB 966 (Mitchell), the RISE Act, which would repeal the three-year sentence enhancement for prior drug convictions, along with other priority legislation.
Thanks to our overwhelming community support, the RISE Act was passed in the Senate Public Safety early this week. But law enforcement is coming out in droves to oppose the bill. We need your support to help the bill pass the full Senate!
Will you join us in asking lawmakers to say NO to jail expansion and say YES to sustainable solutions?
In order to strengthen our communities and use our budget responsibly, we know must fund social services, housing support, education, child care, and job placement programs.
$250 million of our tax dollars should be invested in people, not jails.
Young Women’s Freedom Center
Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget
P.S. You can also support our lobby day by helping us pay for gas and food for our travelers!
Zaineb Mohammed, Zaineb@ellabakercenter.org or 510-285-8236
Sacramento, CA – Today, a bill authored by Senator Holly Mitchell to repeal ineffective sentencing enhancements for prior drug convictions passed the California Senate Public Safety Committee.
“Piling extra years onto jail sentences for repeat offenders of non-violent crimes overcrowds our prisons, sucks money out of taxpayers’ pockets and makes punishing a greater priority than preventing crime,” said Senator Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes much of South Los Angeles. “It doesn’t work. Why continue to waste lives and money on a failed policy?”
Currently, someone convicted for drug sale, possession for sale, or similar offenses can receive an additional three years for every prior conviction for a similar drug offense. For example, a person facing two to four years for possessing drugs for sale could have an extra six years added to their sentence if they have two prior convictions. Senate Bill 966 would address the unjust and extreme sentences that have resulted in persons suffering addiction to be sentenced to over 10 years in county jail.
“Because people of color are often the targets of criminalization and incarceration, drug sentencing enhancements disproportionately impact them,” said Emily Harris, State Field Director at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “We need to stop wasting money on a policy that doesn’t work, and instead invest in education, health, housing, and drug and mental health treatment in our communities.”
Enhancements were originally intended to deter drug selling, however like most drug war policies, they are a proven failure. At the federal level, policymakers have proposed legislation that would reduce sentences and failed drug war policies broadly. By passing this bill, California can serve as a model for other states across the country.
“Decades of research have failed to show that long sentences improve public safety,” says Lizzie Buchen, Statewide Advocacy and Communications Coordinator of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “If anything, long sentences exacerbate the root causes of incarceration, including poverty, social exclusion, homelessness, unemployment, substance use, and mental illness.”
Governor Brown is backing a ballot measure to allow parole for people in prisons without consideration of sentencing enhancements for prior offenses. If passed by the voters, it would only apply to state prison, not to jails. SB 966 would reduce the pressure on counties to spend billions more building and staffing new jails.
California has spent $2.2 billion on county jail expansion since 2007. By repealing this ineffective and inhumane drug sentencing enhancement, the state will save money and reduce jail overcrowding as well. Savings from the bill’s passage could be put towards resources that reduce drug use, such as community-based substance use disorder treatment, after-school programs, and housing.
This bill is co-sponsored by Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Drug Policy Alliance, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
We are thrilled to announce that Senate Bill 966 (Mitchell), which would repeal the sentencing enhancement for prior drug convictions, has just passed its first policy committee! SB 966 is sponsored by CURB, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
More than 60 CURB members from across the state will join us for our lobby day this Thursday in Sacramento — Care Not Cages: Budget for a Stronger California — to build on the momentum of this victory and to fight against the expansion of prisons and jails. We will be meeting with legislators to express our support for SB 966 and other priority legislation, and our opposition to the Governor’s proposed $250 million for jail expansion.
By donating $10, you would pay for breakfast and lunch for one person who attends. With $30, you would help pay for gas for people driving from the Bay Area, with $60, you could support a car from the Central Valley, and with $100, you would help pay for gas for people driving from Los Angeles or the Inland Empire.
Drug Policy Alliance
Member, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
The LA County Sheriff is attempting to move forward with a proposed $2.3 billion jail plan. The Board of Supervisors still have an opportunity to stop this destructive jail plan but they need to act before it’s too late.
Fed up with the endless foot-dragging by the Board of Supervisors, community activists took action today to bring this issue to the forefront of Los Angeles’s attention by dropping banners over the city’s freeways.
LA County currently cages around 17,000 people on any given day, with the lives of each of these individuals and their loved ones disrupted by the harms of imprisonment. Grassroots activists in Los Angeles have been opposing jail construction for more than a decade and are resolute in diverting County andState funding from jails to real community solutions like housing, healthcare, education, and substance use and mental health services.
The LA No More Jails Coalition knows that locking people up in cages does not make anyone safer, and only serves to tear communities apart. We are working to stop the proposed jail and are demanding investment in resources that actually create strong communities.
Activists across LA County are taking to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to target policy makers who could stop this jail. Tweet @CountyofLA and your County Supervisor now – let them know what you w LA County could have if we had #nomorejails!
Sample tweet: We demand #nomorejails! The County could give each public school in LA $1mil if you stop the $2.3bil jail plan. @CountyofLA #NoMoreJails
Interested in getting involved? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Los Angeles No More Jails Coalition
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
For Immediate Release – Thursday March 24, 2016
Lily Fahsi-Haskell – email@example.com, 9123985641
Critical Resistance, a member organization of the No New SF Jail Coalition
SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday Sheriff Vicki Hennessy wrote to the Board of State and Community Corrections to rescind San Francisco’s application for jail funding under SB 863, writing “the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has tasked the Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Public Health, and community mental health and criminal justice stakeholders to convene an effort to explore alternatives that currently preclude building a new detention facility. To seek an extension at this time is not consistent with my intention to participate fully and in good faith in this local process.”
The letter from the Sheriff comes after years of community mobilizations against the jail project as well as two hearings on alternatives to jail construction hosted by supportive members of the Board of Supervisors. Even the Sheriff agreed in her letter that “through this process, it has become clear that many in the San Francisco community are not supportive of using this money to replace any jail beds.” The letter makes jail construction under SB 863 funding an impossibility, however inevitably opens up the door for Ventura County to receive the funding.
While the idea that this funding would go to another county is very troubling, community members are optimistic about SF rejecting the funding. Mauricio Najarro, a member of Critical Resistance who has been active in opposing the jail said “we consider it a testament to strong community organizing that the Sheriff would respect the will of the people and reject funding today. We firmly believe that if we can stop a jail in San Francisco we can use and share the lessons we’ve learned to stop jailing everywhere.” Community members are celebrating this as a hard fought victory: for now, there will be no new jail construction in San Francisco.
The Work Group to Re-envision the Jail Replacement Project referred to by Hennessy brings together community advocates and agencies providing mental health needs and reentry services in order to create a plan for closing 850 Bryant and putting resources into community alternatives to jail construction. Their goal is to provide a draft proposal by the end of the summer to be revised and shared with the Board of Supervisors and Mayor in November 2016.
The Work Group’s first meeting was on March 11th, 2016 where over a dozen members of the No New SF Jail Coalition attended and gave public comment. The No New SF Jail Coalition plans to attend future meetings to hold the Work Group accountable to addressing root problems in San Francisco and not building any sort of asylum or locked facility. This was reiterated by Woods Ervin, a member of the Work Group representing the Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project, an SF-based organization that works with people in prison, who demanded, “We want community-based treatment or residential facilities; we do not want more cages in the form of mental health facilities that strip people of their rights and restrict their freedom of movement.”
This weekend we wanted to invite you to an Art Making Party organizing by the Los Angeles No More Jails Coalition.
You’ll also get a chance to get up to speed on where things are at with the jail fight and find more ways you can help us stop LA County’s dangerous plan to expand the world’s largest county jail system.
When: Saturday, March 26th from 2-5pmwith political education starting at 3pm
Where: Chuco’s Justice Center (1137 E. Redondo Blvd. Inglewood, 90302)
All materials are free of charge, just bring yourself and be ready to slay some jails!