Day 4: Demand #CivilianReviewBoard with Bite

On Day 4 of our week of action, we demand to see funding for #CivilianReviewBoard in the #LABudget. 

Last December, the Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a civilian oversight commission of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. This historic vote was the product of two years of community organizing and county wide mobilizations demanding such a  commission.

Since January an establish working group has been meeting to draft a proposal for the commission. This proposal has been significantly influenced by the community input and organizations such as the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence.

Action 3: #CivilianReviewBoard

The proposed 2015 and 2016 budget includes no proposed money for civilian oversight. The commission will play a critical role in taking and investigating complaints, assessing systemic patterns of misconduct and excessive force, analyzing and reporting on patterns of misconduct as it pertains to policies and practices of the Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, the draft proposal for the oversight commission to be submitted to the Supervisors includes recommendations for staffing to ensure the commission can fulfill these duties. We urge you to take action to secure funding for staffing and operations cost of a civilian oversight commission.

This funding is necessary to ensure that there is long lasting deterrence against excessive force and human rights violations against our loved ones inside the Los Angeles County jail system. It is also important to ensure that the community has an effective mechanism to achieve accountability and transparency.

Join us in our Action for the #LABudget Week of Action. Send a letter to the Board of Supervisors, Chief Executive Office and Sheriff McDonnell today!

In Solidarity,

 Mark-Anthony Johnson
Dignity and Power Now
Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget  

 

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Day 3: Take action for #NoMoreJails and end the criminalization of poor women!

 

Let’s keep it going, Supporter! 

Last week, we had a significant impact when we mobilized our communities to demand no more funding for cops and jail expansion.

Our action bolstered Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ call to revisit the county’s destructive jail plan. However, the county is still trying to push forward expansion projects, including a $103 million women’s jail, in the #LABudget.

We must intervene now to make sure that the plan to build a women’s jail is stopped in its tracks.

Officials have offensively called this project a “Women’s Village,” trying to portray it as a friendly place where women will have access to services and treatment. But we know that jails are not service providers, and there is nothing friendly about tearing families apart or locking people up.

Action 3: #NoMoreJails

We demand that the money going to the jail be redirected to fund quality services and programs in the community that support women and families. We demand more funding for community-based organizations to expand existing treatment programs so there are beds available to implement alternative custody programs. We demand the Board to mandate the use of split sentencing to further reduce the women’s jail population.

Overall, 50% of people locked up in LA’s jails are pre-trial, meaning they have not been convicted or sentenced to any time and are only locked up because they can’t afford bail. LA must stop punishing people for being poor.

Take action to demand an expansion of pre-trial diversion programs, which would eliminate the perceived need for more jails.

LA is at a pivotal moment. Join us as we steer it in the right direction.

In Solidarity, 

 Matt Weathers  
Critical Resistance Los Angeles
 Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget  

 

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Angelenos Protest Jail and Law Enforcement Expansion in County budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – MAY 12, 2015

Press Contact: Christina Tsao, Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Christina@curbprisonspending.org or 626-215-4818

Twitter: @CURBprisons #NoMoreJails

What: County Budget Press Conference and Creative Action

Where: 500 W. Temple Blvd. Los Angeles, CA

When: May 13, 2015 at 8:30am

LOS ANGELES – On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing for the 2015-16 county budget. Prior to the budget hearing, county residents will participate in a press conference and action to protest the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s request for a $4 billion budget. Community members will deliver a letter to the Board of Supervisors also opposing the allocation of $103 million in this year’s budget to construct a 1,616-bed women’s jail in Lancaster. Residents will demand the redirection of resources from the Sheriff’s Department to alternatives to imprisonment and reentry programs, as well as full transparency of budget expenditures.

“The vast majority of those locked up in women’s jails in LA don’t need to be there,” said Diana Zuñiga of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “This plan for a new women’s jail promises services and programs that cannot be delivered. The fact that the Sheriff’s Department is completely unqualified to provide effective programming is only the first problem. Women need quality treatment, supportive housing, employment opportunities and sustained connection with their children in their communities, not another jail. To top it off, there haven’t been any reports documenting the actual needs of women inside and outside the county jails. When will the needs of those inside women’s jails be taken into account?”

The budget proposes new ongoing funding upwards of $100 million, the majority of which will go to new budgeted positions in the Sheriff’s Department to comply with the Department of Justice and Rosas settlement regarding improvements to mental health services and the use of force in custody. District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s mental health diversion plan will only receive $10 million, half of the $20 million set aside last year. The community has been calling for a shift in resources from the Sheriff’s budget to underfunded community programs. It is timely that the supervisors have approved a motion put forth by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to revisit the overall jail plan in consideration of DA Lacey’s mental health initiative and the impact of Prop 47 on the jail population. The Board requested the Sheriff to return on May 19th to provide a progress report on the Jail Master Plan.

“We commend the Supervisors for approving this encouraging motion,” said Mark-Anthony Johnson of Dignity and Power Now. “We support Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in questioning the Sheriff’s reasoning for more  custodial deputies in order to address the mental health crisis in our jail system. Expanding custody operations in a system where Black and Brown people with mental health conditions are more likely to be targets of sheriff violence undermines the growing momentum for diversion and alternatives to incarceration. The violence of lockup, especially against those with mental health conditions, cannot be fixed with more deputies no matter how much training they receive. What will keep people safe is diversion from the jails, placement in alternative programs, and a legally empowered Civilian Oversight Commission.”

LA County’s public protection sector receives 27.5% of the total county budget, which is approximately $7.4 billion of the $26.9 billion budget. The Sheriff’s Department is requesting an additional 2,323 budgeted positions. If approved, the Sheriff would staff a total of 21,711 individuals, making the Department the second largest law enforcement agency in the nation. The Department is also requesting over $189 million of AB 109 funding which is an increase of $8 million from last year.

“Given all that has happened nationally regarding police violence it would be a slap in the face to increase funding for law enforcement in LA County. This county leads the nation in police misconduct in and outside of the jails,” stated Kim McGill of Youth Justice Coalition. “We demand the Board to stop giving the Sheriff’s a blank check to continue traumatizing, imprisoning, and killing our community members. They don’t need more money, they need to be held accountable and the community deserves full transparency.”

Wednesday’s press conference will feature expert testimony, a large Mother’s Day Card signed by family members of people in Lynwood jail, and other compelling visuals. Speakers will be available for interviews in English and Spanish.

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CURB Hails Senator Hancock’s Call to Immediately Close Aging Prison, Demands further Reductions in May Revise

 

For Immediate Release – May 13, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: Christina Tsao, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Christina@curbprisonspending.org, 213-864-8931.

Sacramento – In advance of Governor Brown’s May Budget Revise, Senator Loni Hancock takes a bold move this morning by releasing a statement and letter calling for the immediate closure of California Rehabilitation Center Norco. Norco, opened in 1980, is one of the oldest medium-security prisons in California and closure of this facility has been seriously discussed since at least 2003. Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) applauds this historic and overdue call to close Norco. CURB demands that Governor Brown and the entire legislature support the closure of Norco and re-direct funds from contract bed capacity towards a durable and sustainable prison population reduction plan.

“The plan to close Norco has been a battle that members of our coalition have been a part of since the birth of CURB in 2003. The lack of action to close this prison has resulted in numerous compromise deals that approved $810 million for in-fill bed construction, the opening of New Folsom for women, the Stockton Medical Facility, and over 12,000 people in in-state or out of state contract prisons. Now CDCR is still insisting they need over $20 million to continue increasing contract bed capacity,” said Diana Zuñiga of Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “It’s time to stop compromising and commit to closing Norco. Our elected officials need to focus on the long overdue release of people in prison by codifying elder parole, expanding credits for everyone, and fully implementing the Alternative Custody Program. Californians can’t afford more expansion or more foot dragging and we hope to see something different in the May Budget Revise.”

The CDCR 2012 report “The Future of California Corrections” showed Norco scheduled to close in June 2016. The plan in 2012 would cut spending by billions of dollars, cancel some construction projects, close one lockup and bring back 9,500 inmates housed in other states – all while meeting court orders to reduce crowding and improve medical care. Corrections reported that the California Rehabilitation Center had 1,050 authorized positions with a payroll of $76.8 million and houses 3,900 inmates. Closing it would save about $160 million a year in operating costs, authorities said. The old and dilapidated building has contributed to an infestation of rodents, leaky pipes, water temperature failing, and continued unsafe conditions for everyone inside of the facility.

“It is unacceptable that the State of California continues to operate this facility,” Hancock stated.  “It does not meet even the most minimal standards of acceptable conditions for human habitation.  If our goal is to rehabilitate inmates so they are able to return to society as productive citizens, housing them at Norco is not the way to go about it.”

In past discussions, local officials supported the closure. Norco Mayor Kevin Bash said leaders and developers were interested in the area and that very few prison employees lived in Norco which provided little revenue to the city. Norco is located in Riverside County, an area that already suffers from high levels of incarceration and poverty rates.

“Even CDCR Secretary Cate stated in 2012 that Norco was CDCR’s ‘least efficient, most expensive, least safe, oldest prison’. So why is it still operating?”, said Vonya Quarles of Riverside Alternatives to Jail Expansion Coalition and All of Us or None Riverside. “We know that a $160 million savings could be better used to create employment, housing, and treatment opportunities for people coming home to the Inland Empire and throughout California. We hope that this closure is the first of a legislative trend that calls for a serious of reforms and further prison closure.”

The budget crisis in California has deepened as the corrections budget continues to increase and funding for education, health and social services is still not being fully restored. California is scheduled to get out of the court order by Feb. 2016 and in that plan has to decide whether to close Norco or continue to keep an environmental, fiscal and health problem open.

CURB will be available for comment and will also be participating in a series of press conferences once the May Budget is released on May 14, 2015.

Press Conference locations:

Thursday, May 14, 2015:

Los Angeles: Aurora Garcia – 562-519-3106 – 12pm at the Ronald Reagan State Building, 300 South Spring St., LA
Sacramento: Pete Woiwode – 510-504-9552 – 11:00am at 1315 10th St., Sacramento

Friday, May 15th, 2015:

Riverside: Maribel Nunez – 562-569-4051 – 1:00pm at the California Towers Riverside, 3737 Main Street Riverside, CA 92501

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CA May Revise Backslides into Aggressive Prison Construction, Punting Durable Population Reduction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 14th

Press Contact: Christina Tsao, Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Christina@curbprisonspending.org or 213-864-8931

Twitter: @curbprisons

SACRAMENTO, CA – The May Revision to Governor Brown’s 2015-16 budget, released this morning, delays plans to close the notorious decaying prison in Norco, a move supported by Senator Hancock and CURB members earlier this week. The Corrections Budget continues to account for a total of $12.676 billion with plans for “aggressive” prison construction at Donovan and Mule Creek over the next year.

“We know the only permanent solution for the decaying California Rehabilitation Center in Norco is to bulldoze it immediately,” explained Deb Reyes of California Prison Moratorium Project. Today’s revised budget pushes off any plans to address Senator Hancock’s demand to close Norco until the release of next years 2016-17 budget. Reyes continues “Why are we waiting? People who are suffering in California’s crowded and decaying prisons need the legislature to take action immediately to implement common sense parole and sentencing reforms to keep California below the court ordered population cap.”

Today’s May Revise promises to bring 4,000 people from out of state contract beds back to California, while simultaneously suggesting a commitment for “aggressive construction” of new prison beds. “Building more beds, and continuing to shuffle people around the country isn’t the type of ‘permanent solution’ to prison overcrowding that California voters want.” says Emily Harris the State Field Director for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “The budget did not anticipate reductions from reforms like Prop 47 or expanding parole, signaling that the Governor is not taking these reforms seriously, but only reacting to population reduction and not actively pursuing it.” The passage of Prop. 47 has been hailed as a voter mandate for California to continue to reduce its reliance on locking people up.

Advocates have called for Correction Budget funds to be redirected from proposed prison expansion into the implementation and expansion of court ordered measures to reduce the number of people locked-up in California. Current legislation from Senator Liu and Assemblymember Stone would expand these court order measures and continue the need to expand corrections capacity. The Governor’s May Budget Revise suggests a decrease in prison population by 1.1 percent in 2014‐15 and decrease by 3.8 percent in 2015‐16, however the, the Administration will wait to develop a long term plan that includes court ordered measures until the 2016‐17 Governor’s Budget.

“This revision shows a lack of commitment to a realistic plan to get out of the court order. All I see is lots of expensive construction,” said Diana Zuñiga, Statewide Coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “Instead of focusing on keeping an aging prison open our efforts should be on continuing with parole and sentencing reform that is decreasing the population. This revision is a disgrace in that it leaves programs like elder parole, credit expansion, and the alternative custody program out of the equation when we know that is the only way we will get out of the court order by February 2016. How can you create a long term plan a month before that deadline?”

CURB will be available for comment. We will also be joining California Partnership in a series of press conferences.

Press Conference locations:

Thursday, May 14, 2015:

Los Angeles: Aurora Garcia – 562-519-3106 – 12pm at the Ronald Reagan State Building, 300 South Spring St., LA

Sacramento: Pete Woiwode – 510-504-9552 – 11:00am at 1315 10th St., Sacramento

Friday, May 15th, 2015:

Riverside: Maribel Nunez – 562-569-4051 – 1:00pm at the California Towers Riverside, 3737 Main Street Riverside, CA 92501

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Day 2: Take action for #MentalHealthDiversion in #LABudget

Dear Supporter,

The #LABudget has set aside over $103 million for the Sheriff’s Department to reform mental health services and reduce use of force in the jails.

The Sheriff’s solution is to hire more deputies to create new “teams” in the department. We see little to no additional funding for experienced clinicians and health professionals in this year’s budget.

This is absurd – people with mental health issues should be diverted from jails

The Sheriff’s Department is also requesting millions of dollars for 2,323 additional positions. Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department continues to rank second in the largest law enforcement agencies in the nation.

Action 2: #MentalHealthDiversion

We need to let the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors know that we do not want more funding for more Sheriff deputies in the jail system. The County needs to prioritize the creation, implementation and expansion of out-of-custody mental health care programs and aggressively recruit qualified healthcare professionals in order to divert people from jails.

Think of what our community can do with $103 million! How many people could we provide reentry services or mental health treatment? How many youth centers could be built?

Please take action now! And look out for three more actions this week.

In solidarity,

Diana Zuñiga

Interim Statewide Coordinator

Californians United for a Responsible Budget

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#CABudget Battle: What did the May Revise bring us?


*Courtesy of Noah Miska of Sin Barras*

Dear Supporter,

The May Budget Revise was released on Thursday, coming after Senator Loni Hancock’s call to close Norco State Prison. Yet, the long overdue closure of the decrepit prison was not part of Governor Brown’s agenda.

Norco has been slated for demolition since 2012, but the administration is avoiding talking about it. Close Norco now!

The May Revise suggests a decrease in both the prison population and spending for out of state contract bed capacity, resulting in a savings of $73.3 million and reduction of 4,000 out-of-state contract beds by June 2016.

However, the budget also focuses on an “aggressive construction” plan to waste MILLIONS of our tax dollars to expand the prison system by over 3,000 new beds. 

We must act now if we don’t want to see an “aggressive construction” of prisons!

All this budget revise is doing is shuffling our loved ones around from out-of-state to in-state prisons instead of prioritizing release. We have to say no more!

Why not re-direct the $73.3 million that will be saved from out-of-state contract beds towards fully implementing Elder Parole, Credit Expansion, Medical Parole, and the Alternative Custody Program?

We need to demand that our elected officials stop expanding prisons, support reduction and reentry, and that we finally close Norco.

Now is the time to keep pushing!

Thanks and peace,

Diana Zuñiga

Interim Statewide Coordinator

Californians United for a Responsible Budget

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#LABudget Week of Action!

Dear Supporter,

Thank you for coming out this week. The energy and sense of community at the Mother’s Day Event and Budget Hearing was great!

Also, some of our members and allies in Los Angeles had some amazing wins! ICE out of LA worked to stop the 287(g) agreement and Dignity and Power Now pushed to get no former or current law enforcement on the Civilian Review Board.

Bit by bit, we are breaking away at the criminalization and trauma our communities experience in Los Angeles!

Now, we are asking you to participate in the #LABudget Week of Action. The Sheriff’s Department is begging for millions of dollars to build up their capacity and control, and we have to say no more!

Each day this week we will ask you to send an email and call the Chief Executive Office, LA Board of Supervisors, and the Sheriff’s Department to focus on a series of demands around the #LACountyBudget!

Action 1: #ICEoutofLA & #StopAdelantoExpansion –

Last week, ICE out of LA was able to stop one unjust anti-immigration policy, known as 287(g), from being reinstated in Los Angeles. However, they are still fighting the implementation of the Priority Enforcement Program, which allows immigration agents to have access to the fingerprints of every person booked in jail.

In the LA County Sheriff’s Budget there is an “unmet need” of $12 million for Immigration Enforcement Programs.

Togther we are also still fighting the expansion of two facilitites in Adelanto. The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors and the LA Sheriff have not brought it up for a vote YET. Media strongly suggests that Sheriff McDonnell has close ties with a lobbyist, former LA District Attorney Cooley, who is working to get a contract with LA County to send over 3,000 people to a not yet constructed jail in Adelanto.

For our first action, let’s make sure to let Los Angeles leadership know that we don’t want our people criminalized due to immigration status and we oppose all expansion of incarceration facilities. We need them to #StopAdelantoExpansion!

Our job this week is to demand a re-direction of dollars from law enforcement’s budget towards resources for all Los Angeles community members, wrap around services, community centers, a Youth Development department, a Civilian Review Board with teeth and reentry services.

We hope you can lend support at this critical moment that will lay the ground work for our future efforts.

In community,

Mariana Mendoza

Enlace, Programs Coordinator

Member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget

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CURB is Hiring – Apply Today!

We are so excited to announce that we are seeking a highly organized, passionate person to serve as CURB’s Statewide Advocacy and Communications Co-Coordinator. Individual will be responsible for strengthening CURB’s profile and work by representing CURB in the media and at convenings, actions, conferences, meetings, coalitions, networks and other public events. This person will work directly with the other co-coordinator and collaboratively with CURB member organizations to meet CURB’s goals and vision and maintain CURB’s internal communications, infrastructure, stability, and health.

Deadline to apply is Friday, May 22nd! View full job description, qualifications, and application needs.

Deadline to apply is Monday, May 25th! View full internship details. Internships are unpaid.CURB is also seeking a Organizing and Advocacy Intern who can assist the organization in some of the following areas: generating broad community support for reducing the number of people in prison in California; maintaining connections between CURB and people inside prison through written correspondence; helping with grassroots organizing and outreach efforts; supporting legislative advocacy.

CURB is committed to investing in the leadership of people of color and formerly incarcerated people. Formerly incarcerated people, people who have family inside prison, women, queer and trans people are encouraged to apply. CURB does not discourage or discriminate against convicted people. There will not be a background check or fingerprinting of applicants, and you will not be asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime on the application or interview. Please feel free to mention that you have been in prison or jail, it will be considered as an asset in this job.

Feel free to contact Diana Zuñiga with any questions at 213-864-8931 or Diana@curbprisonspending.org.

Advocacy and Communications Co-Coordinator Location: Our Oakland office is located near the corner of Webster and 14th St. and is served by the 12th Street BART, and multiple bus lines. The office is wheelchair accessible.

Advocacy and Organizing Internship Location: Our Los Angeles office is located at the Chuco’s Justice Center at 1137 E. Redondo Blvd. in Inglewood.  The office is not wheelchair accessible.

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Possible Prison Closure? And May Budget Revise Actions!

This week has brought us a lot of promising news, and tomorrow we will see Governor Brown’s revisions to the state budget. First, thanks to YOU we were able to get SB 171, the county involuntary transfer bill, pulled. This means we don’t have to worry about itthis year, but we may see it again next year. Dear Supporter,

Second, yesterday Senator Loni Hancock called for the closure of Norco State Prison. Check out our press statement calling for closure and to focus on reduction policies like Elder Parole and Credit Incentives.

Tomorrow, we will see changes in the May Budget Revise or more foot dragging. We need you to come out and be there as we respond. We need to tear down the wall of poverty and prisons together! 

We’ve made some progress toward funding the services our people need most and reducing the prison population, but we still have a long way to go to restore the devasting cuts to education, health care, childcare and reentry.

Join us Thursday and Friday for press conferences and rallies across the state:

  • Sacramento: Thursday, 5/14 at 11:00 am at California State Capitol, 1315 10th St., 95814
  • Los Angeles: Thursday, 5/14 at 12:00 pm at 300 S. Spring St., 90013
  • Riverside: Friday, 5/15 at 1:00 pm at California Towers, 3737 Main St., 92501

We can demand the closure of Norco and a full prison population reduction plan that brings our loved ones back home.

Thanks and peace,

Diana Zuñiga

Interim Statewide Coordinator

Californians United for a Responsible Budget

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