Hard won gains to end gang-based solitary confinement in California are in jeopardy if Governor Jerry Brown has his way by adding 48 new gang investigators in the state budget, at a cost of $5.8 million.
Legislative Budget Committees are determining which items in the Governor’s proposed budget to approve and which to reject. On Wednesday, the Senate voted to REJECT the $5.8 million for new gang investigators.
It is vitally important that the Assembly committee does the same.
Such investigators find reasons to label behaviors as “gang related” and to keep people in prison longer, or house them in long-term isolation. Now that hundreds of people have been taken out of solitary, after prisoners went on hunger strike three times between 2011 and 2013, we must not support new efforts to punish them.
The Gang Framework that has been governing the use of solitary confinement has been found to be completely unjustified. It should be dismantled and the money re-directed to positive programs.
Call the members of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee and urge them to reject the $5.8 million and stop investing in failed programs:
Nora Campos, Chair, 916-319-2027
Chris Holden, 916-319-2041
Tom Lackey, 916-319-2036
Melissa Melendez, 916-319-2067
Freddie Rodriguez, 916-319-2052
Phil Ting, 916-319-2019
American Friends Service Committee
A member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Sacramento heard you! Following months of community pressure and mobilizations, the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety — which more than 50 CURB members stormed on our April 7 Lobby Day — voted to reject the governor’s proposed $250 million in jail construction funding.
The proposed jail funding is slated to be heard by the more moderate Assembly Budget Subcommittee next week. We’re targeting these Democracts: Asms. Nora Campos (San Jose), Phil Ting (San Francisco), and Freddie Rodriguez (Chino/Pomona). Asm. Chris Holden (Pasadena) has already expressed his opposition to the jail construction funding, and we thank him for his leadership!
We need to make sure these Assemblymembers stand strong in rejecting the $250 million for jail construction.
We know that building jails results in the tearing down of our communities. Let’s help Sacramento understand what we truly need to be safe: housing, jobs, and health care — not more cages!
P.S. Do you live in San Francisco? Assemblymember Ting, the Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, is having a Budget Town Hall tonight, May 19, and he needs to hear your voice! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
For immediate release: Senate committee votes against jail construction funding, communities celebrate and vow to continue fighting
Sacramento – In a move celebrated by community advocates and anti-imprisonment activists, the California State Senate rejected $250 million for jail construction earlier today. The vote comes after months of community pressure and a series of mobilizations to Sacramento organized by Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), a statewide coalition of over 70 grassroots organizations working to reduce California’s imprisonment system.
“We applaud the Senate for making this move and standing by what communities have been saying since this money was first proposed,” said Tash Nguyen, local advocate with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland. “Our message has always been that California must stop wasting funds on harmful jail construction, and use that money to invest in much needed resources that strengthen our communities, including mental health care, affordable housing, and education.”
The proposed jail funding is slated to be heard by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety next week. The full legislature must pass the full budget by June 15, to be signed by the Governor by July 1.
“This victory reflects the power and will of Californians who are standing against more jails in their counties, but the fight is not over,” said Kim Carter of the Time for Change Foundation in San Bernardino. “We won in the Senate, and we will continue to build on this momentum to ensure that decision makers in the Assembly are compelled to definitively reject any more money toward imprisonment.”
Opponents of the jail funding have provided many alternatives that should be funded instead, a demand that is reflected in the recommendation approved by the Senate. Among the recommended investments are mental health and substance use treatment, reducing homelessness, and reentry support for current and former prisoners.
Despite the gains, community advocates are strongly denouncing a move to put more money into law enforcement, also included in the Senate’s recommendation.
“The move away from jail construction is welcome, but must simultaneously be a move away from the institution that fills jails, and that is the police,” says Christina Tsao, an organizer with Critical Resistance Los Angeles.
CURB will be monitoring the vote by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety next week, as well as the Conference Committee and Governor’s final versions of the state budget that will be solidified by the end of June.
It’s go-time for the California budget! Last Friday, Governor Jerry Brown released a revised state budget that divests $250 million from communities for jail construction, fortifies and expands the prison system, and fails to support urgently needed programs and services in the community.
Over the next few weeks, the legislature will work on producing its version of the budget, and they could vote on the jail construction funding as early as next Monday!
As long as counties continue receiving funding to build up and fill up their jails, they will fail to evaluate promising reforms that could shrink the number of cages and reduce the number of people they imprison. We must demand that our elected officials begin addressing our needs with care, not cages.
Diana Zuñiga and Lizzie Buchen
Co-Coordinators, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
For Immediate Release – May 13, 2016
Lizzie Buchen, Co-Coordinator, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Sacramento – Governor Jerry Brown released a revised state budget today that divests $250 million from communities for jail construction, fortifies and expands the prison system, and fails to support urgently needed programs and services in the community. Despite Brown’s promised commitment to a durable solution to the state’s prison crisis, his budget lacks any reforms that would meaningfully reduce the prison population, instead bucking national trends in projecting a growth in the number of people imprisoned in California.
“This May Revision, like numerous budgets during the Brown administration, shovels billions of dollars down the black hole of incarceration while disguising it as reentry and rehabilitative support for people incarcerated,” said Diana Zuñiga, Co-Coordinator of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “Time and time again funding that could go to support community needs is instead going towards expanding CDCR and Sheriff infrastructure, prioritizing the policing and imprisonment of communities of color.”
California has a critical opportunity to significantly and sustainably reduce the number of people imprisoned in county jails. Yet despite his refrains about fiscal responsibility, Brown is proposing to move the state in the opposite direction by expanding the county jail system, pouring another $250 million into jail construction to bring the total to nearly $2.5 billion in jail expansion since 2008.
“Every dollar spent on jail construction is a dollar diverted from community services and alternatives to incarceration,” says Christina Tsao, an organizer with Critical Resistance Los Angeles. “Adding beds to the jail system will discourage counties from making changes that have already been proven to reduce the population, and would remove any incentive to explore new alternatives. Instead the state stays the course of caging instead of caring for poor people of color.”
Despite Brown’s assurances of reducing the size of our enormous prison system, his revised budget continues moving in the opposite direction: Spending $6 million to “repair” the dilapidated prison in Norco, instead of closing it down as has been promised for several years; extending the contracts with private prisons in California and other states; and funding a $5.4 million evaluation to plan for the renovation and replacement of the state’s 12 oldest prisons, rather than sustainably reduce the prison population and close the most remote, inhumane, and dilapidated facilities.
“Today’s Revise takes a page right out of the jail expansion playbook, trying to change the image of CDCR by hiding prison expansion behind ‘additional investments to support inmate rehabilitation,’” says Deb Reyes, an organizer with the California Prison Moratorium Project. California doesn’t need renovated ‘social service prisons’, we need fewer prisons,” says Deb Reyes, an organizer with the California Prison Moratorium Project. “They have already tried the trick of adding the R back into CDCR. A “rehabilitative vision” requires true investments in communities most damaged by mass incarceration and decades of wasted funding in prison expansion is not that!”
Brown also proposes $5.8 million to increase staffing of the Investigative Services Unit, targeting alleged “gang” activity connected to the release of people from long-term solitary confinement in Pelican Bay State Prison due to the Ashker v. Brown settlement.
“This increase in ISU staffing is completely unwarranted,” says Marie Levin, an organizer with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition, whose brother was held in solitary confinement for 31 years until the settlement. “Many of the men who have been released from the SHU are peacemakers, and they are helping to bring about the decrease in violence in the General Population that the CDCR has been exploiting since the settlement.”
The budget still falls short of what is needed to truly address community needs, including community-based substance use treatment, child care slots, housing, expanding healthcare to undocumented adults, and strengthening community-led workforce training.
“The budget revenue surplus should go into investments for the nine million Californians living in poverty, instead of into the rainy day fund,” says Maribel Nunez, director of California Partnership. “Instead of $250 million going into more jail construction, we need to see the state properly fund SSI and SSP, invest in Health4All, and restore the cuts to MediCal reimbursements and child care.”
After our victory last December against the new San Francisco jail, we now have a critical opportunity to contribute to a new future for our city, in which we stop shoring up our systems for policing and imprisonment and start building community self-determination.
Several members of the No New SF Jail Coalition have joined a city working group to develop a plan to close the jail at 850 Bryant St and to meet the needs of communities most impacted by incarceration in San Francisco.
To continue focusing our efforts on practical steps to achieve this goal, the Coalition has compiled a list of guidelines to shape the discussions of the working group, requiring that any new programs and facilities that are established meet the following criteria: Open, unlocked facilities; user-led and self-determined; reinvestment in community; run by community-based service providers, not law enforcement; provides equitable access to care; incorporates bail and bond reform; creates pathways toward permanent and sustainable housing; closes 850 Bryant immediately.
Read the full guidelines to learn more, and join us on Friday to help build a better, stronger, more liberated city for all:
The No New SF Jail Coalition
The RISE Act, SB 966 (Mitchell), is making national headlines! This morning, Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, writes in the Los Angeles Times about why California must pass SB 966 and begin treating our communities with care, compassion, and concern — not cages.
The RISE Act would repeal the three-year sentence enhancement for prior drug convictions. It fell just three votes short of a majority in the Senate two weeks ago, but gets one more chance to make it through this year.
“Automatically adding years to a drug sentence is a weapon of individual and community destruction disguised as an expression of concern,” she says.
Please share Michelle Alexander’s wise words with your friends, family, and state representatives! Our primary targets are the five Democrats who abstained from the vote: Sens. Hueso, Jackson, Hertzberg, Wolk, and Mendoza. Find out who your Senator is by clicking here.
As we continue to fight against the proposed construction of a new $200 million women’s jail in Los Angeles County we want to invite you to the LANMJ Mother’s Day Event to celebrate our victories and our women.
Last year’s event was a moving experience for everyone involved. Just check out the video that was created by an LANMJ member.
This Mother’s Day Event, like last year’s, will focus on bringing love and healing to those visiting their loved ones at the
current women’s jail in Lynwood. We will have an art space for children, a listening station for visitors, and a photographer to caputure each family’s experience.
When: Sunday, May 8th from 8am-12pm
Where: Central Regional Detention Center (11705 S. Alameda St. Lynwood, 90059)
There will be Spanish translation available, snacks, and water!
We know you will continue to stand with us in our fight against incarceration in LA and across the state. We hope to see you on Mother’s Day!
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.