STATEWIDE RALLY IN MCFARLAND, CA TO SHUT DOWN NEW MCFARLAND WOMEN’S PRISON AND SUPPORT IMMIGRANT JUSTICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHAT:                  Rally to demand closure of new women’s prison in McFarland,

WHERE:               McFarland Park, 100 Frontage Rd, McFarland,

WHEN:                 Thursday, July 31st, 5pm

Contact:                Debbie Reyes, California Prison Moratorium Project, 559-367-6020

  Misty Rojo, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, 510-213-0522

MCFARLAND, CA – On Thursday, July 31st, communities impacted by incarceration, immigrant detention, and escalating violence against women and children will march to the site of a new women’s prison in McFarland to demand its immediate closure. Advocates will convene at McFarland Park, 100 Frontage Rd, McFarland, CA at 5pm.Anti-prison advocates from across the state will hold a rally as a stop on “Trail for Humanity,” an over 300-mile march during which women and children are walking from Merced to the Mexican border to raise awareness about the deadly conditions that immigrants endure, demanding comprehensive immigration reform and an end to deportations and detentions.The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has contracted with the GEO Group to run the McFarland prison on a budget that will cost California taxpayers $9 million a year. The GEO Group is a private company that currently operates detention centers and prisons around the country. The GEO group, like the State of California, has been challenged by prisoner hunger strikes, protests, and lawsuits due to the deplorable and inhumane conditions of their facilities. “ICE detention centers, California state prisons, and jails are an incredibly destructive force in the communities affected by them—that’s why we’re coming together to demand an end to this brutalization of our families and a turn toward healing solutions that are legitimately based in our communities,” says Misty Rojo, staff member of prisoner advocacy groups California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and Justice Now.

Imprisoned women and advocates argue that CDCR could easily implement programs to reduce crowding, and that wasting money on prison expansion has only proven to exacerbate the problem. “People being sent to McFarland are eligible for release under already established programs, and the money being spent to open this prison should be used for community-based re-entry services instead,” states Jess Heaney of Critical Resistance.

Alarming prison conditions are only intensified by the fact that the McFarland prison sits in Kern County, an area plagued by toxic environmental conditions. According to California Prison Moratorium Project (CPMP) organizer Debbie Reyes, “The city of McFarland is in an area known as an area where people have developed cancer at an alarming rate and a breeding ground for Valley Fever. Instead of reopening new prisons and exposing more people to the toxic health effects of this environment, all the prisons there should be shut down.”

At the rally in McFarland, community members, loved ones of imprisoned people, and advocates will make the link between the struggles against brutal conditions in immigrant detention centers and those endured by over 120,000 people locked up in California state prisons. Along with women and children participating in Trail of Humanity telling their stories and speaking about their demands, organizers with CCWP and CPMP will provide statements in solidarity and discuss their ongoing work fighting prison expansion in California.

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$4 billion that will make you want to fight.

 

Dear Supporter:

Each day CURB receives calls from the loved ones of people inside.  Last month a mother called to ask how SB 260 – new legislation allowing juveniles convicted as adults to apply for resentencing – would impact her son.  She sounded scared but hopeful.  Most of all, she was determined to assist her son so that he could be released earlier.

While CURB does not provide legal or social services, our work gets to the root cause of those conversations: we’re building a mass movement to reduce the number of prisons and prisoners in California.

And we can’t do it without you, Supporter.

Right now, every dollar you contribute before midnight on August 5th, will be doubled, up to a total of $2,500 committed by a generous network of CURB donors.

Can you help us today with a $40, or even $100 gift?

As a CURB supporter, you’ve seen the devastating impact of California’s massive prison and jail system.  But it’s also true that our growing movement opens another path toward realizing the freedom, justice, health and well being we envision for our lives and communities.

Your generous commitment to that vision is making an impact! CURB members and allies have achieved a number of inspiring victories over the last year, including:

  • Defeating $4 billion in prison & jail construction funding.
  • Implementing several parole reforms including good-time credits, elder parole and medical parole, that resulted in hundreds of early releases.
  • Supporting reentry by expanding alternative custody to counties and ending the life-time ban on some public benefits for people with drug felony convictions.
  • Blocking locking San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties from receiving the latest round of jail construction funding from Sacramento!

The work of fighting prison and jail expansion, and advancing strategies to move resources from imprisonment to education, health care, and supportive programs simply won’t get done without your help.

I will continue to get calls from people in a daily battle between fear and hope. But together, we’re building a movement to make our best hopes a reality.

Please, help us reach our $2,500 matching challenge. Your gift today can make a difference for all Californians.

 

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Why We Need To Keep Fighting…

Take Action

Email the Board

Dear Supporter,

A few weeks ago, Supervisor Yaroslavsky seemed to think that our LA Board of Supervisors needed to reconsider the massive jail construction plan, saying diversion “might mitigate the need for the size of the jail that we have under construction.”

What does this mean? The $2 billion dollar jail plan approved by the L.A. Supervisors is not a done deal. No ground has been broken—there are still construction deadlines, final budgets to satisfy, and so much more. We need to keep fighting!

Also, there is a new hope towards a comprehensive diversion plan. Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas proposed a motion that would approve $20 million of funding towards DA Lacey’s Mental Health Diversion plan.

This is a step in the right direction and we know we need more. Help us make sure this funding goes towards community based programs and not more jails!

1) Email LA Board Supervisors and tell them you support a Mental Health Diversion plan that prioritizes community based services and demand the jail plan be stopped

2) Tweet members of the LA Board of Supervisors and tell them to support diversion and not more jails

3) Come out Tuesday, July 29th at 11am when the board will be discussing this diversion plan and the next phase of the jail construction plan

Where: 500 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 90012

We’ve known all along that we need alternatives and no new jails. Now is the time to make that happen!

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Help Us Shut Down McFarland!

Take Action!

Stop McFarland!

Dear Supporter,

Did you hear about the re-opening of a prison for women in McFarland? The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is already moving at least 260 people to the new contract facility.

Despite their attempts to disguise it as a “re-entry facility” we know this is just another prison. A private prison run by GEO plagued by the same unsafe conditions, violence, hunger, medical neglect, and exploitation that we see in all private and state prisons, as well as detention centers.

We need you to call upon California State Legislators and CDCR to cancel the contract with GEO and implement existing release programs instead of re-opening a prison!

1) Email and call your decision makers RIGHT NOW to tell them to Stop the McFarland Prison!

 

2) Mobilize against this outrageous prison expansion!

What: Rally to Shut Down McFarland GEO Women’s Prison

Where: Caravan from MacArthur BART leaving at 11am to join a Rally at McFarland at 5pm (McFarland Park, 100 Frontage RD, McFarland CA)

When: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

For More Information: Email notomcfarlandgeo@gmail.com or call 415-255-7036 ext. 4

Please RSVP if you are planning to come to the rally and if you can drive or need a ride.
At the rally, we are uniting with the women organizing “A Trail for Humanity”. In the era of mass deportations, incarceration and a humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors at our southern border, they will journey over 300 miles on foot for our children and our families.

Thank you for taking action and fighting back. I hope to see you on the 31st for the rally!

Misty Rojo

California Coalition for Women Prisoners 

A member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget

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Inland Empire: Incarceration + Deportations = Expansion

#nomorejails #nomoreprisons

Dear Supporter,

A few weeks ago, CURB participated in an event hosted by Riverside All of Us or None at the Unitarian Universalist Church, discussing the impact of the state budget passing $500 million dollars for county jail construction and what it means for our communities in Riverside and San Bernardino. 

At the presentation we realized that residents are eager to know more about what is happening in our part of the state, so here is a quick round up of the expansion plans facing the Inland Empire.

The city of Adelanto is facing a crisis. Currently the Adelanto Detention Center, plagued with a multitude of problems such as inadequate health care, preventable death, and lack of nutritious food, has the capacity to house 1,300 immigrant detainees, but has recently announced plans to add an additional 650 cages.

If we don’t stop them, these plans will make this prison THE largest immigrant detention center in the country. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, Adelanto is also looking to build a 3,280-bed jail to contract with Los Angeles County to ease the overcrowding of its county jails. This project has an estimated $332 million price tag, for a city that is about to go bankrupt.

Farther east, the East County Detention Center in Indio is attempting to expand their county jail. The Board of Supervisors approved a bond sale of up to $325 million earlier this month. Currently housing 325 prisoners, the new jail would hold up to 1,626 prisoners and is tentatively slated for completion in November 2016. Among other changes, the new jail would have video conferencing instead of in person visits. 

We are always looking to grow the movement against expansion and grow our Inland Empire voice! 

Do you know others who may want to get involved? Perhaps your family, neighbors, co-workers or faith-based community? 

Help us reach our goal of getting 200 people from the Inland Empire to sign this petition against all expansion in California!

Vonya QuarlesAll of Us or None
A member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget
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Los Angeles: We Need Mental Health Diversion, Not Jail Expansion

Thank you for taking action!

Can you help us take one more step to ensure that Los Angeles County does the right thing?

Tweet at the LA Board of Supervisors – #NoMoreJails

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Los Angeles Residents Advocate for Mental Health Diversion, Not Jail Expansion

MEDIA ADVISORY – July 14th, 2014

Contact: Diana Zuniga of Californians United for a Responsible Budget at  213-864-8931 or diana@curbprisonspending.org

What: LA County Board of Supervisors, S-2 report by District Attorney on assessment of mental health diversion programs.

When: Tuesday, July 15th.  Meeting begins at 9:30am, report by DA at 11:30am

Where: Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple St. LA

Los Angeles: Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting will focus on the 60-day progress report submitted by District Attorney Jackie Lacy, outlining steps that have been taken to assess mental health diversion programs in Los Angeles County. Community members, and services providers will be in attendance at the meeting to support efforts to divert people with mental illness away from the County jail. According to District Attorney there are approximately 3,000 people in LA jails with mental illness “essentially turning the jail into a psychiatric ward”.

Advocates from Californians United for a Responsible Budget and the LA No More Jails coalition will be in attendance to push Supervisors to take further action to support a Comprehensive Diversion Plan for Los Angeles County by investing a minimum of 30-50% of the counties realignment budget into community programs. Los Angeles County has received over $1 billion in realignment (AB109) funding since October 2011 and over 80% has been allocated to the Sheriff’s Department.

The GAINS Center—(G)athering information; (A)ssessing what works: Interpreting the facts; (N)etworking; (S)timulation change—has been employed to act as a consultant and work with county stakeholders to implement mental health diversion as quickly as possible. Further evaluation and recommendations for next steps were to be developed at smaller local meetings with stakeholders that took place on July 8 & 9. This plan to implement a mental health diversion program is one step towards Mark Ridley Thomas’ proposal to develop a Comprehensive Diversion Plan for Los Angeles County that would include treatment, promote rehabilitation and reduce recidivism.

See full DA report here.

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How the 2014-15 Budget impacts you!

Last month, Governor Brown signed the 2014-15 Budget Act. As I’m sure you have heard, the budget increases funds wasted in the “rat hole” of incarceration to nearly $12 billion. The budget includes no significant restorations to anti-poverty and social safety net programs that have suffered years of cuts and could lift low-income Californians out of both poverty and prison.

Despite the uninspiring budget decision, we did make some important gains, that might impact you or your loved ones. Groups that have been working to fighting poverty and prisons for years, have been strengthening our demand to end prison and jail expansion and reinvest funds in community-based programs. Our fierce organizing against the $500 million for new jail construction is a huge part of how these victories came about.

The legislature’s refusal to eliminate the new jail construction money from the budget shows many legislators are more afraid to disturb Governor Brown’s allegiance with the Sheriff’s Association than they are willing to protect California’s most vulnerable populations from a future where going to jail is a prerequisite for getting access to mental health, drug treatment and social programs.

To learn more about our organizing and a little bit of background on this year’s budget, check out my recent piece in the San Francisco Bay View ” The Story Behind the 2015 Budget Act“.

Re-entry Support: 

  • $2 million for drivers licenses and ID’s for people exiting prison and jail.
  • $10.5 million to be directed to community-based organziations supporting reentry in and outside of prisons.
  • We finally repealed the ban on people with prior drug convictions from receiving CalFresh (food stamps) benefits and CalWORKS (basics needs support and job training). The new law will go into effect April 1, 2015. Read the We Did It – Coalition Statement 2014 for more information.

We hope that as the state continues to seek solution to costly prison overcrowding, policy makers will consider additional policy decisions that reduce criminalization of poverty and improve opportunites for people who have been imprisoned.

Review the California Partnership’s budget summary to learn more about how education, health and human services were impacted.

Parole and Sentencing Reform:

  • Implementation of the county-level alternative custody program for primary caregivers of children.
  • Counties encouraged to utilize split sentencing.
  • Historic enactment of elder parole for people who are 60 years or older and have served 25 years.
  • Expansion of medical parole for sick people in prison.
  • Establishment of good-time credits for second strikers sentenced for non-violent crimes.

These are important steps that if expanded could have dramatic impacts on California’s prison population.

To find out how these new policies might impact you or your loved one the Prison Law Office has put together more information about California’s prison population reduction plan and on increased time credits for second strike sentences. 

We will be sure to share with you more information as it becomes available on how these reforms are being implemented, along with information on how communities are organizing against the pending jail expansion resulting from the passage of the $500 million.

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We did it! The lifetime ban is repealed!

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 1.23.45 PMResponding to our collective voices, personal testimonies and overwhelming evidence that providing basic needs assistance (like food and rent), employment training and work supports decrease the likelihood of recidivism, California’s legislative leaders and Governor Brown repealed the optional ban for people with prior drug-related convictions from receiving CalFresh (food stamps) benefits and CalWORKs (basic needs support and job training).

The Budget Act of 2015, passed by the legislature on last Sunday and signed by Governor Brown on Friday, repeals the lifetime ban for people as long as they are complying with the conditions of their probation or parole. The new law will be enacted April 1, 2015.

This decision follows over a decade of organizing that culminated in this year’s broad coalition of over 140 community-based organizations, including those led by Californians impacted by the law, who made this issue a priority not only because it would reduce recidivism and crime, but also because of how harmful it was to families and single adults who were trying to start over. Repeal of the ban also had editorial support from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

The lifetime ban repeal had been championed in recent years by Senators Mark Leno and Senator Loni Hancock who were joined this year by important Assembly allies, Budget Chairperson Nancy Skinner and Assembly Justice Reinvestment Select Committee Co-chairs, Assembly Members Ammiano and Jones Sawyer. In the end, the budget bill that contained the repeal was voted off of the floor with strong support in both houses.

While we were disappointed to see $500 million in new jail spending allocated in the budget—resources that could have been allocated towards early childhood education, poverty reduction or the development of human capital—we are hopeful that, as the state continues to seek solutions to costly prison overcrowding, decision-makers will consider policies that, like the repeal of the CalFresh and CalWORKS ban, reduce criminalization of poverty, make communities safer and improve opportunities for former prisoners to rehabilitate.

We Did It – Coalition Statement 2014

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Riverside, What Does Your Budget Value?

Learn More

#nomorejails #nomoreprisons

Dear Supporter,

Tomorrow, Riverside All of Us or None has invited us to give a presentation and participate in a discussion on the local and state corrections budgets!

Budgets can make or break a country, state, county, or community. What does the California State Budget and the Riverside County Budget value?

With the state budget passing the proposed $500 million dollars for county jail construction, this event provides us an opportunity to look closely at what the implications of this costly jail construction fund are and what it means for our communities in Riverside. It also gives us the chance to discuss what is happening with the Riverside County budget.

Join us:

What: “Local and State Jail and Prisons Budgets” Presentation and Open Discussion

Where: Unitarian Universalist Church, 3657 Lemon Street, Riverside CA 

When: Friday, July 11th at 6:30pm – 8:00pm

I am so excited and hope you will join us! Please spread the word and invite your friends, family and community to join me for this discussion!

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