Last Thursday, I attended a budget hearing in the California State Senate, which took its first look at Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed spending plan. In a preview of upcoming budget debates between the Legislature and the administration, Gov. Brown’s representatives from the Department of Finance faced tough questioning by members of the Senate Budget Committee.
Senators wanted to know how it is possible that California’s prison population could decrease by 40,000 prisoners while the cost of running state prisons increases by a billion dollars.
Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, asked representatives of the Brown administration, “When, if ever, will the State be able to reduce prison spending?”
Vice Chair Jim Nielsen (R-Chico), an ardent opponent of “Realignment” (under which counties have assumed responsibility for managing persons convicted of nonviolent, non-serious and non-sex offenses) pointedly asked the Brown administration, “Where is the Realignment dividend?”
Leno also questioned the Brown administration’s request to double the staff at the California Health Care Facility, a new prison located in Stockton that provides long-term medical care and mental health treatment to prisoners. The Brown administration responded that planning for the new prison did not take into account the physical plant design of such a large concentration of high acuity beds.
Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) questioned the Brown administration’s revenue estimates, which have been notoriously lower than the State’s revenue collections in recent years. Knowing how much money the State will take in is an important element of crafting the State’s budget. “How can I be sure that the administration’s revenue estimates are more accurate this year?” Mitchell asked.
Mitchell, who chairs a Senate Budget Committee that oversees health and human services programs, also chided the Brown administration over its commitment to reducing poverty. The administration has drawn criticism from advocates for failing to significantly restore many of the $15 billion in cuts to safety net programs since the Great Recession. “This is not poverty reduction,” Sen. Mitchell declared. “This is poverty maintenance.” She specifically called attention to the lack of funding for subsidized childcare slots – a program that gives low-income parents crucial help in improving their economic well-being.
For details on how the proposed budget my impact you, I suggest you look at the California Partnership’s Budget Summary.
We expect the issues raised by these questions to be a focus for the Legislature this spring as it crafts California’s 2015-2016 budget. Stay tuned for Action Alerts to communicate with your legislators.
January 24th, 2015
Noon @ The Downtown Clocktower,
(Intersection of Pacific Ave. & Water St.)
These deaths are caused by the same pattern of unaccountability that recently allowed Officer Darren Wilson to walk free after killing Michael Brown. From Ferguson to Santa Cruz, it is clear that our criminal justice system targets the most vulnerable members of society: people of color, women, trans and queer people, people with disabilities, the poor, and the homeless.
Without fierce community resistance, this pattern will continue.
With the solidarity of local, national, and international movements, we are organizing a march and rally (January 24th, Noon @ The Downtown Clock
tower, Santa Cruz) to demand that:
1. The Board of Supervisors cancel its contract with California Forensic Medical Group.
2. The Sheriff’s Department and CFMG accept responsibility for the unnatural deaths and implement the Grand Jury recommendations involving the expansion of Crisis Intervention Team mental health services.
3. Solitary confinement/administrative segregation and other forms of torture, such as the “restraint chair,” be abolished.
4. The County cancel the $25 million planned expansion of Rountree Detention Center and invest in community-based social services.
Join the demonstration!
To plug into a carpool, email email@example.com // let us know if you need a ride, or have a car with empty seats.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 15th
Press Contact:Emily Harris, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, 213-864-8931
SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, the Department of Finance released their AB 1468 report (http://www.dof.ca.gov/budget/
The report highlights that “the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted on August 5, 2014 to replace the existing 5,100 Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles assuming the replacement facility would have 5,000 beds with as many as 3,500 mental health beds. The project is estimated to cost between $1.7 and $2.2 billion depending on the number of mental health beds included.” The report suggests that the high cost of the replacement project would lead the County to issue bonds for jail construction.
“The choice is clear, LA can choose to fund unnecessary, costly jail expansion, or they can choose to build up the infrastructure required for vital community-based services to flourish, and provide resources for all those in need,” said Diana Zuñiga, Statewide Organizer for Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “We have two new county supervisors, a new sheriff, and the community support needed to shift LA’s addiction to incarceration.” Zuñiga continues “Jails do not solve social problems such as unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness. We need solutions that prioritize job security, permanent housing, substance abuse, and health services that support those most vulnerable in our communities, mainly Black and Brown people.”
The four options in the report include: 1) the appropriation of General Fund for a number of years to help LA meet its debt service payment for jail construction; 2) to provide financial assistance to LA’s efforts to expand its mental health diversion programs; 3) to give additional funding for a Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction (MIOCR) Grant targeted to the County; and 4) to create a collaborative corrections program between the state and LA County to make the system more efficient.
“LA again has the opportunity to shift priorities from over-incarceration towards rehabilitation,” said Mark Faucette, Chair of the Los Angeles Regional Re-entry Partnership. “Allocating funding for treatment and support for people experiencing mental illness and substance-use disorder holds the promise of reducing recidivism and increasing public safety.”
Additionally, the report highlights significant recent changes to LA’s criminal justice landscape. Since the approval of the jail plan, District Attorney Lacey has stepped forward as an advocate for mental health diversion and leads a task force focused on diverting at least 1,000 people away from jails. The report says there are approximately 17,400 people in the LA jail system, of which 900 beds will be saved due to credit earnings; 6,600 have been successfully diverted into community-based alternative custody programs; and at least 4,200 people will be funneled into transitional programs.
California’s overwhelming passage of Prop. 47, especially by Angelenos at 64.3%, was widely recognized as a mandate from California voters to further reduce incarceration.
“LA is finally implementing parole and sentencing reform measures, along with diversion programs that are having a drastic impact on the number of people locked-up in LA.” Christina Tsao of LA No More Jails explains. The report predicts significant reductions to the jail population due to split sentencing enacted in last year’s budget, as well as the passage of Prop. 47. Officials in LA have estimated an annual reduction of 2,500 in the jail population. Tsao continues, “This report validates what those of us in LA have been saying all along: continue to safely reduce the jail population and invest in the alternatives to incarceration that will make the ‘need’ for a new jail obsolete. ”
Press Contact: Emily Harris, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, 510-435-1176
SACRAMENTO, CA – Gov. Brown’s 2015-16 Budget, released this morning, defies comments earlier this week that the administration is committed to shrinking California’s over-sized prisons by increasing prison spending by 1.7%, bringing the total Corrections budget up to $12.676 billion.
“If the Governor believes that ‘we can’t pour more and more dollars down the rat hole of incarceration’ and has actively attributed the voice of the voters in this decision, then why is he increasing spending on corrections, planning for more prisoners rather than fewer and defying the demands of the Federal Court to further shrink the prison system?” asked Christina Tsao of Critical Resistance. The proposed increase of funding for corrections is partially due to 13 new reentry hubs.
California’s overwhelming passage of Prop. 47 was widely recognized as a mandate from voters to further reduce the prison population. County officials in Los Angeles have estimated an annual reduction of 2,500 in their jail population, however today’s budget predicts that in 2015-16 only 1,900 people will be released from state prison under the proposition. The budget highlights the release of people from prison as a result of the expansion of good-time credits (4,418) and elder parole (115). The budget does not outline any further plans to expand these efforts.
“Today’s budget shows the success of parole and sentencing reform measures in beginning to reduce crowding in California’s bloated prisons,” said Diana Zuñiga, Statewide Organizer for Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “Then why is Governor Brown still spending millions of dollars to open thousands of new prison beds, instead of implementing even more aggressive population reduction reforms?” asks Zuñiga. The budget anticipates that 2,376 new state prison beds will open in Feb. 2016 at 3 different locations.
“Today’s budget maintains California as #1 in poverty and #1 in prison spending. This is not an accident, “ said Vanessa Perez from Time for Change Foundation. “This morning Brown applauded the legislature on a balanced budget but we need to tear down the wall of poverty and invest more into vital programs and services that will lift the most vulnerable in our community out of poverty and stop wasting money on building new prisons walls. That is something that will be worthy of an applause”.
After years of cuts, today’s budget includes an increase in spending on K-12 and higher education. Education advocates, particularly in the UC system would like to see even further increases to prevent tuition hikes. “Higher educations in California has needed more funding for years. As we see tuition hikes happening for UC students across the state, here in San Diego they are building new prison beds at Donovan State Prison,” says Allyson Osorio a student working in External Affairs at UC San Diego. “We should support the students in California and stop wasting precious funding to increase incarceration.”
CURB will join the California Partnership and other anti-prison and anti-poverty groups today to discuss Gov. Brown’s proposed 2014-15 State Budget at five press conferences across the state.
Press Conference locations:
Los Angeles: Aurora Garcia – 562-519-3106 – 12pm following the budget release at the Ronald Reagan State Building, 300 South Spring St., LA
San Jose: Pete Woiwode – 510-504-9552 – 10:00am at Sacred Heart Community Services 1380 South First St.
San Bernardino: Maribel Nunez – 562-569-4051 – 11:00am 300 N. D St.
San Francisco: Pete Woiwode – 510-504-9552 – 12:30pm at the State Building, 350 McAllister St.
Fresno: Rose Aguste – 10am 2550 Mariposa Mall Fresno, CA 93721
|Dear Supporter,This week at his inaugural address Governor Brown stated, “We are at a crossroads. With big and important programs now launched and the budget carefully balanced, the challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it.” We agree! But, we didn’t expect Jerry to say this given that our inside sources are speculating that the budget will continue to funnel billions of dollars into our state prisons. And, get this, it could include a back-room deal to help cover the price tag of the proposed mega jail in Los Angeles.
We need to show some serious power to keep Governor Brown to his word and prevent any other surprises.
That means we need you, with us in front of his offices across the state at actions this Friday, January 9th after the budget release:
Last year, our budget advocacy helped secure the release of thousands of people from prison through elder parole, alternative custody, and good time credit expansion.
If you can’t make it, be on the lookout in the coming weeks for next steps to help us keep the pressure on!
P.S. Because of you we raised more than double our year-end fundraising goal, we can’t thank you enough!
THANK YOU for building justice not jails with us in 2014. Together we are building a future for everyone that includes all the vital services and opportunities each of us needs and deserves.
CURB will continue building a movement against prison and jail expansion in 2015. To kick off the new year we will be joining the California Partnership for a series of major statewide actions aimed at tearing down the wall of poverty and stopping Governor Brown from spending a single penny more on locking people up.
We are $3,282 away from our end of the year fundraising goal.
Look out for future emails with full details on the Tearing Down the Wall of Poverty Mobilizations, happening across California in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2015-16 budget.
Your support makes CURB’s work to combine the power of organizations across the state possible.
Emily Harris Diana Zuñiga
Statewide Coordinator Statewide Organizer
I believe that the social and political crises of our timecan be overcome.
I believe that the structural racism, sexism and capitalism that undergird our most profound social problems can be dismantled and that a truly just world is within our collective capacity to build.
But I’ve also learned, time and again, that we need powerful, creative organizations that can harness that capacity and forward meaningful demands for change.
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) is one of the most important of those organizations today, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting them with a generous donation right now.
CURB unites more than 70 organizations fighting to end mass incarceration from every corner of the state.
CURB magnifies the power of tens of thousands of activists to challenge the stranglehold of fear-mongerers and law enforcement over state policy.
and CURB leads the way to a truly just future by driving at the heart of California’s prison crisis.
Left unchecked, the veritable addiction of our elected officials to a campaign of prison and jail expansion threatens to erase any progress we can make in sentencing reform, re-entry support, or in changing public debate. And CURB is a unique force in the state insisting that we can, and must, reduce the number of prisons in the state if we wish to reduce the number of prisoners.
And make no mistake – every dollar you give today adds real power to this work. CURB is fighting an extremely well-resourced network of law enforcement and so-called “victim’s rights” organizations.
So please join me. Don’t underestimate the power of your support.Please give $28 – and do it now, so it becomes $56 to support CURB during their special year-end match.
Becoming a CURB donor is something tangible you can do, today, to transform the landscape of mass incarceration in California. To move us one step closer to the future we all want – and need.
I know first-hand that the political powers driving mass incarceration are formidable. I also know that people’s movements to challenge them are stronger.
Angela Y. Davis
P.S. CURB is only $4,289 away from their end of the year goal! Now is the time to donate.
Thank you for all of your support in 2014! We hope the New Year will be all that you wish for.
On Tuesday, emboldened with newly-elected leadersip, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors finally approved the creation of a civilian oversight commission of the embattled Sheriff’s Department.
Read about Tuesday’s decision here!
This crucial victory has been a long time coming, and shows that we can make progress when elected leaders embrace new ideas!
There is a lot of work left to do, if we are to ensure that the commission is reflective of the people it should represent: those individuals and families who have been impacted by mass-incarceration and Sheriff’s violence. But we at CURB know that our movement is getting stronger every day, and with supporters like yourself on-call to help us, more victories will surely come.
However, there is still more work to do to stop Adelanto’s jail expansion!
Last night in the High Desert, CURB and our allies gathered at the Adelanto City Council meeting to oppose approval of the $327 million dollar construction of an overflow jail for Los Angeles County. We listened to Doctor Crants, private-prison enterpreneur, spin his tales of the revenue the jail will bring to the city. However, there is an outrageous gap in his plan!
“Doc” Crants admitted he has no assurances from the Board of Supervisors that L.A. wants this jail!
We already know that neighboring Victorville doesn’t want the jail, and you can read about it here.
We need to let the L.A supervisors know that they can stop this expansion. Without their approval of lease-revenue bonds, the project will suffer a crushing setback. We are going to keep the pressure on the new leadership to keep making the right decisions, like they have with the civilian oversight commission. You can help.
This Wednesday, the new Adelanto City Council will discuss their plans to build more jails, and one of those facilities is supposedly for Los Angeles County jail overflow.
But even LA officials are stating they do not want more jails!
Last week, the L.A. Times reported: “Solis warned of an ‘incarceration-industrial complex that will sink our economy as well as our society if we allow it to.’ Kuehl said in an interview that she wants to revisit a recent decision by the previous board to spend $2 billion building jail facilities, including a new central jail.”
These transitions in leadership mark a crucial moment for us to change the direction of our communities; from one of incarceration and violence, to community solutions and support.
Will you join us this week to provide public comment voicing your opposition to more jails in Adelanto?
When: Wednesday, Dec. 10th at 7pm
Where: 11600 Air Expy, Adelanto, California 92301
Now that we have some new leadership, join me in supporting changes that newly-elected officials can make!