OAKLAND – CURB co-coordinator Lizzie Buchen issued this statement today following Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of the 2016-2017 budget:
“The budget signed today by Governor Jerry Brown reflects Sacramento’s relentless reliance on incarceration. Although the budget includes some repairs to the social safety net, it nonetheless aggressively builds up California’s system of imprisonment, adding another $270 million to the state’s large-scale jail construction program, extending contracts for private prisons, increasing the number of prison guards, and funding construction on a dilapidated prison in Norco that has been slated for closure since 2012.
“This reinforcement of the state’s vast system of imprisonment comes as legislators, the governor, and the general public have recognized that incarceration is failing people in low-income communities of color. Not only did the voters overwhelmingly choose prevention and treatment over punishment for low-level offenses through Prop 47, but the Governor is pushing his own ballot initiative to reduce sentences for people in prison. In the legislature, both the Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees voted to reject more jail construction. However, after the backroom deal-brokering in the last-minute budget negotiations, the funding for jail construction returned to the budget, a sign that law enforcement continues to gain power in Sacramento and remains tenacious in prying money from the legislature.
“Although we celebrate the repeal of the cruel and punitive maximum family grant policy for CalWORKs and the modest increases to grants for seniors and people with disabilities and to addressing homelessness, we remain deeply opposed to the state’s prioritization of imprisonment as an intervention for poor people and people of color. By pouring more money into fortifying and expanding our expansive systems of prisons and jails, Brown is smoothing the way for ever-harsher sentences and policies, ensuring that today’s children will be imprisoned at the same sky-high rates as their parents and grandparents are today. His bankrolling of prison and jail construction is a declaration that the programs for treatment, rehabilitation, and reentry that he claims to support will do nothing to stem the flow of poor people into cages. Is it an implicit acknowledgement that we plan to imprison even more people twenty years from now than we do today. It is a message to black and brown children in poor communities that the State’s expectation for their future is a life behind bars.”
Californians United for a Responsible Budget CURB is a statewide coalition of 70 grassroots organizations working to reduce the number of people in prisons and jails, the number of prisons and jails in the state, and shift state and local spending from corrections and policing to human services.
The fight continues in Sacramento. With all his cries for fiscal caution and his claims about reducing California’s sky-high incarceration rates, Governor Jerry Brown is on the verge of approving $270 million in high-interest loans to build new jails. This is the fourth round of jail construction funds approved since 2007, and there’s no sign that it would be the last.
In a stinging column Friday, Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee called out Governor Jerry Brown for his hypocrisy, and highlighted the fiscal maneuver employed by the state to fund the construction of prisons and jails that the public clearly does not want.
The Associated Press also picked up the news on Brown’s relentless pursuit of jail expansion, but points to the Sheriffs’ claims that they want to fortify and expand jails to improve conditions for incarcerated people — a claim that bears little connection to reality, as new jails are opening up without visiting rooms, and as people with mental health issues continue to be brutalized and killed by sheriff’s deputies.
We need to put a human face on incarceration, and recognize the impact on children, parents, and families. We need to start talking about closing jails — not expanding them — and committing to investments in services, jobs, and supportive housing. We need to bring our loved ones home.
Thank you to all those folks that came out to Mother’s Day in May and to the Care Not Cages Art Party this past week. This weekend we are celebrating Father’s Day at the Twin Towers and we want to invite you to join us.
Will we see you on Father’s Day?
Date: Sunday, June 19th
Location: Twin Towers Correctional Facility (450 Bauchet St. Los Angeles, 90012)
We will be on the coner of Vignes and Bauchet. We’ll have a photo booth where folks can take pictures to bring to their loved ones. We will also have balloons and a light breakfast to share!
Come take a stand against jail expansion and in support of healthy communities!
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
This week marks the 45th anniversary of the War on Drugs. Join us today in taking action to pass the RISE Act, one step in undoing the harm this war has caused on our communities.
In a statement to Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control on June 17th 1971, President Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one,” unleashing an attack on low income communities and communities of color.
The War on Drugs caused soaring arrest rates that deliberately targeted Black people. Nixon dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies and pushed through measures like mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants. In the 1980s, during the height of the drug war hysteria, the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, while the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%.
One weapon used against our communities in this war has been automatically adding years to a prison term with a sentence “enhancements,” which Michelle Alexander called“weapons of individual and community destruction disguised as an expression of concern.” The RISE Act (SB 966 Mitchell) will repeal sentencing enhancements for prior convictions of possession for sales, sales, transportation, and similar acts.
After decades of the War on Drugs, it is clear that purely punitive approaches to crime are counterproductive. There is no evidence that enhanced sentences reduce drug availability or the number of people harmed by illicit drug use.
Field Director, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Member, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Our coalition has been working tirelessly toward a different vision for California.
With the help of donors like you, we have been able to raise almost $3,000, supporting our work of building a people-powered movement throughout the state of California to oppose Sacramento’s prison and jail expansion plans.
During this month, our growing force persuaded the Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees to reject the state funding for new jails.
Last week, we found out we were faced with a huge obstacle: the Governor brokering a deal to fund some of the legislators’ pet projects while including even more funding for jails. At that moment, our members stepped up and targeted our decision-makers and the Governor to say NO MORE by making over 100 phone calls, sending over 1,000 emails and tweeting up a storm.
The vote was delayed for a day as the offices of elected officials echoed with our demands, but the next day the Governor was able to get his way, ramming $270 million of jail construction funding through our state budget.
Our fight is stil not over and we have to celebrate the small victories, even in the midst of defeat. The power we are building on the ground is moving minds and hearts. Our work has and will stop disastrous incarceration plans from moving forward.
Celebrate our collective victories with us and let’s take the lessons we learn now to continue to build towards a brighter future for all Californians.
Diana and Lizzie
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Lizzie Buchen, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Tonight, elected officials in the Budget Conference Committee overrode the actions of the Budget Subcommittees and intense community opposition by approving $270 million for jail construction in the form of lease revenue bonds.
During Budget Subcommittee hearings over the past few weeks, both the Senate and the Assembly rejected $250 million in general funds for county jail construction, a decision that came after communities impacted by incarceration from across California advocated to reject the funding and re-direct it towards community-based programs and services and alternatives to incarceration.
“This budget once again ignores the demands from constituents, state legislators, and elected officials that have all advocated for no more jails,” says Sammy Nunez, Executive Director of Fathers and Families of San Joaquin. “In San Joaquin and other parts of the state, community members have been demanding resources for on-the-ground support and denounced the need for more jails. And just this year San Francisco and Contra Costa organizers stopped their proposed jail plans from moving forward. By using lease revenue bonds, not only is the Governor ignoring what Californians have clearly said, which is no more jails in our communities, he is putting future budgets in jeopardy.”
Lease revenue bonds (LRBs) come with high interest rates that indebt future budgets. LRBs are loans that are repaid by income (“revenue”) generated by the project; typical examples include toll bridges, hospitals, and colleges. Voters do not approve LRBs because taxes are not supposed to be used to pay for the projects — but in the case of jail and prison construction, the “revenue” is simply a transfer of money between government agencies.
During the Senate subcommittee’s March 3 hearing on prison construction, Conference Committee member Sen. Loni Hancock criticized the state’s reckless use of LRBs: “I always wondered when we funded those [construction] projects where we were gonna get the revenue to pay back the lease revenue bonds, or if that was just a way to get around having to go to the people of California and ask them to approve a bond which, indications are, they would never approve. And so now we’re stuck with the debt payments, and certainly as we look at any proposals for more [construction] I think that this committee is going to have to try and be responsible.”
This action by the Governor and California legislators is occurring while many Sheriff’s departments are under scrutiny and facing lawsuits for abuse and mistreatment of people in their care, as well as violations of state law by counties eligible for the jail construction funds. In fact, eight out of the 21 eligible counties were “non-responsive” with reporting sterilizing procedures under SB 1135, the anti-sterilization bill passed two years ago.
“Counties should not be funding jail expansions if they cannot properly manage their current system in a responsible, compliant, and transparent way,” said Tracy Jones of Justice Now, who was a liaison between incarcerated people and prison staff while she was incarcerated. “I have been privy to first-hand sterilization abuses within the walls of the female prison system. The license to kill a woman’s choice to give life has now been given to counties, particularly impacting women of color.”
My name is Charlie Hinton and I have been a part of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Network for a number of years. I wanted to invite you to my showing of Solitary Man a piece based on my interactions with prisoners in Pelican Bay SHU/solitary confinement, where the largest prisoner hunger strike in history began in July, 2013.
The story is set in November, 2014, where I visit Otis Washington, a 64 year old lifer and New York City native who has been locked up since 1975, and at Pelican Bay since it opened in 1989.
Will you join us on Saturday?
What: Solitary Man, My Visit to Pelican Bay State Prison
When: Saturday, June 11th at 7:30pm
Where: Brooklyn Commons (388 Atlantic Ave. Brooklyn, 11217)
Please RSVP at: email@example.com
The show supports the worldwide movement to end mass incarceration and solitary confinement. It is written in performed by me, Charlie Hinton with music by Fred Johnson.
I hope that you could come out. Suggested donation is $5-10, but no one will be turned away.
Supporter of Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Network and Californians United for a Responsible Budget
It is all hands on deck in Alameda County! Despite rapidly growing community opposition, the sheriff’s department is barreling forward to seek county supervisor approval for the proposed mental health expansion at Santa Rita Jail without the community’s consent.
There are two opportunities for you to mobilize with us to show the Board of Supervisors that we are united, that we don’t back down, and that we know what our community truly needs:
In addition to rejecting this jail expansion, advocates are pushing for a comprehensive analysis of the Social Impact and the County’s Budget in regards to the jail construction project, modeled off of a recently released report by San Francisco’s Budget and Legislative Analyst office. It is critically important that the Board postpones their construction builder vote in order to conduct this full analysis.
Will you be there to help us change the tide in Alameda County? You can also email and call the Alameda County Supervisors, and encourage others to do the same. Sign our petition and find call information here!
Let’s show the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors that the community is watching, and that we don’t support money being poured into our Sheriff’s pockets.
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget
P.S. Helps us get the word out about the jail by sharing the mobilizations on Facebook.
Just yesterday I was able to vote for the first time in 52 years. The right that I was able to excercise yesterday reminded me of all the CURB members that fight and will continue to fight for the liberation of all those still inside and those of us on the outside.
I have seen, felt, and experienced the importance of this coalition that fights against the systems of oppression that incarcerate us and advocates for a world without cages.
My involvement with CURB has been through my work with All of Us or None and American Friends Service Committee. I have seen how they have lifted up our work and also the work of my comrades in this fight.
I have witnessed the coalition mobilize hundreds of people to Sacramento to demand #nomorejails. I have felt the excitement every year when we stop billions of dollars of prison and jail construction funding in the budget. And I have contributed and expereinced to the dedication that we have to building up a California that invests in care not incarceration.
We can’t fight the good fight without you. And we know that we have lots of changes we still need to make. Let’s continue to win together.
American Friends Service Committee
A Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget
As part of the growing fight against more cages in Los Angeles the Los Angeles No More Jails Coalition is hosting an exciting radical art making event to continue building community resistance to the county’s proposed plan to build two new jails.
What: Care Not Cages Art Party
When: Friday, June 10 from 3-7pm
Where: Chuco’s Justice Center, 1137 East Redondo Blvd. Inglewood, 90302
It is important that you come out and build with us this Friday. We now know that the cost for constructing the proposed jails has increased. The jail construction plan will now cost the county and our state over $3.7 billion. Come out this week and learn more about what this means for the future of LA County.
You will also learn from powerful artists and community activists, including Melanie Cervantes of Dignidad Rebelde and Joel Garcia of Self Help Graphics & Art, on making silkscreens and posters against the county’s $3.7 billion plan to build two new jails, and to amplify the community based alternatives we demand instead.
Hope to see you on Friday!
Critical Resistance Los Angeles
A Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget