Thank You & My Staff Transition!

It is with a lot of excitement and some sadness that I’m writing to let you all know that I will be transitioning out of my position as CURB’s Statewide Co-Coordinator at the end of May. I have had different roles as Organizer, Coordinator, and Staff Trainer in CURB for the past 4 ½ years. I am grateful to be part of this dynamic coalition of so many different opinions, experiences, and political frameworks but who all share the value/spirit of freedom emanating from our dreams and actions.

CURB is my political home. This home has been built upon the legacies of organizers like Rose Braz, Lisa Marie Alatorre, Debbie Reyes, Diana Block, Craig Gilmore, Ruthie Gilmore, Emily Harris and so many others. I feel grateful that the guidance of our most trusted movement leaders has been shared with me and led us into a state of growth for CURB. I could not have grown into the political thinker, organizer, and leader that I’ve become if it wasn’t for the years of struggle with my comrades, mentors, and opponents that pulled me into a greater understanding of myself and the world around me.

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For Immediate Release: California State Senate Passes Bill to Repeal Sentence Enhancement for Prior Drug Convictions

For Immediate Release

May 15, 2017

CONTACT: Daisy Vieyra, (916) 442-1036 x613, dvieyra@acluca.org

California State Senate Passes Bill to Repeal Sentence Enhancement for Prior Drug Convictions

Critics Say Long Sentences Failed to Reduce Drug Sales, Exacerbated Racial Disparities in Sentencing, Crippled State and Local Budgets

Sacramento, CA — The California Senate took a step to address what many described as an expensive failed policy that exacerbated racial disparities in sentencing by passing SB 180 by Senators Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles and Ricardo Lara of Long Beach. The bill passed along party lines, 22-13, with most Democrats supporting the reform, and most Republicans opposing.

The RISE Act, for Repeal Ineffective Sentencing Enhancements, would repeal a three-year mandatory enhancement for prior drug convictions that are added to any new conviction.  Today, someone convicted for sale or possession for sale of a minuscule amount of drugs, can face 3-5 years plus an additional three years in jail for each prior conviction for similar drug offenses. Public defenders have testified in legislative committees that homeless, mentally ill and addicted persons are incredibly vulnerable to these unfair sentences.

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CURB remembers Rose Braz

CURB members are celebrating the life and mourning the loss of one of our movement leaders, Rose Braz. Rose was a co-founder of CURB, Critical Resistance, Justice Now and other organizations that sought to build a strong opposition to policing and incarceration throughout California and nationally. Rose was a comrade in this fight to many, but also a friend and an always present mentor that sought to carry on intersectional organizing practices and constantly sought to share her skills with others in the movement. 

Earlier this month on Tuesday, May 2nd, Rose passed away after a long battle with cancer. Although Rose is physically gone from our lives, her spirit and energy continue to be felt by so many people that are a part of the CURB community. Here are just a few words from CURB members about the impact that Rose has on us:

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CA Prison Spending Soars to All Time High in Governor’s May Budget Revise

MEDIA CONTACT: Ivette Alé, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Ivette@curbprisonspending.org or 213.864.8931

Sacramento — This morning, Governor Brown released California’s 2017-18 revised budget – a budget that increases total funding on corrections to $11.4 billion (2017-18), up from $10.6 billion last year (2016-17). Brown’s increase in corrections spending falls out of step with the will of the people of California. The budget projects a decline of the adult prison population by .7% due to voter mandated criminal justice reforms like Proposition 57, yet, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget continues to soar at an all time high this year. In a moment where California’s values are under threat by the federal government, the state cannot afford to drain its social safety net to expand prisons and jails.

Over 64% of California voters have already taken a stand against wasteful spending by passing Prop 57 last fall, however the savings are offset by the Governor’s budget. The budget estimates that Prop 57 will reduce the average daily population by approximately 2,000 in 2017-18 with result in net savings of $38.8 million in 2017-18, yet the total corrections budget increases by an all time high of $600 million. Despite these spending increases, CDCR insists on neutering the potential cost saving effects of Prop 57 by refusing to implement retroactivity, expanding credits to non-violent third strikers and applying credits to the earliest possible parole dates. As the budget is finalized, advocates turn to legislative budget leaders, encouraging them to  with Prop 57 regulations.  Arguing that by fully implementing the will of California voters to reduce mass incarceration millions of dollars in savings could be realized.

“In the Assembly Budget Sub 5 committee hearing on April 20, Assemblymember Weber asked Secretary Scott Kernan why CDCR won’t implement credits earning retroactively. He stated that it was because CDCR did not have the capacity to do so. The Governor’s revised budget allots an additional $1 million to implement Prop 57. We strongly recommend CDCR use this additional funding to implement retroactive good time credits” said Charles Berry, board member of Initiate Justice, a member organization of Californians United for a Responsible Budget.

In addition to full implementation of voter-mandated reforms, state legislators are still concerned about California’s deadly prison and jail overcrowding and are pursuing further common sense sentencing reforms like SB 180 (RISE Act). Authored by Senator Mitchell, the RISE Act would repeal an enhancement for prior drug convictions. Experts believe these enhancements have contributed to jail and prison overcrowding, and do little or nothing to deter drug sales.

“The policy of sentencing people with nonviolent drug offenses to long periods of incarceration has proven an expensive failure,” said Eunisses Hernandez, Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Like Prop 47 and 57 before it, savings from reduced jail crowding would free up funds that could be invested in programs and services that improve public safety, including community-based mental health and substance use treatment, job programs, and affordable housing.”

Donald Trump’s repeal of federal reforms, like Obamacare, are well underway, and his threats to withhold federal funds from states that refuse to comply with his aggressive immigration policies continue. Governor Brown’s budget and press conference shared no plan if a major federal financial hit impacted California like the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“In a moment when federal pressure could lead to severe cuts to health and human services, as well as education, it seems like a no-brainer that funding should be cut from the state’s bloated corrections budget to protect the social safety net. Now is the time for the Governor to take a stand against the racist and oppressive policies that will come down federally.”

The people of California, progressive legislators and the CURB coalition believe that the appropriate response to looming budget threats is not more wasteful spending on incarceration, but commonsense reforms coupled with a reduction in corrections spending. California should continue to pursue aggressive parole and sentencing reform efforts and repeal all prison and jail expansion efforts.

CURB will be joining the California Partnership at a series of statewide press conferences to respond to today’s budget.

  • Los Angeles, Thursday May 11th at 12pm – Ronald Reagan State Building (300 S. Spring St.)
  • Sacramento, Thursday May 11th at 11am – State Capitol Bldg 1st Floor Room 1190
  • San Francisco, Friday May 12th at 1pm – California State Building (355 McAllister St.)
  • Riverside, Monday May 15th at 10 am – CA Towers (3737 Main St.)
  • Coachella, Monday May 15th at 10 am – Veterans Park (1515 Sixth St.)
  • Bakersfield, Monday May 15th at 11 am – Kern County Liberty Bell (1415 Truxtun Ave.)

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Join LANMJ this Mother’s Day!

As CURB and the LA No More Jails coalition continue to fight against the proposed construction of a new $200 million women’s jail in Los Angeles County, we’re also uplifting our women and their families at our annual LANMJ Mother’s Day Commemoration at Lynwood Jail.

At last year’s event, families were given the opportunity to share their stories and voice their concerns with the jail expansion plan. You can watch families advocate for their loved ones and communities here. 

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Join us tomorrow: Tell the governor to invest in people, not prisons

Last year, Governor Brown said he would develop a sustainable solution to California’s prison crisis.

But in this year’s budget summary, he made it clear that he wants to move the state in the opposite direction.

Among the alarming moves, the budget:

  • increases $500 million for state corrections
  • increases $1.5 million for local community corrections
  • refurbishes or replaces the 12 Oldest Prisons in California
  • reopens closed SHU units at Pelican Bay and Corcoran for housing

We need to show Gov. Brown that we won’t accept his continued prioritization on imprisonment!

Join CURB, California Partnership, and other anti-prison and anti-poverty groups at four rallies and press conferences across the state starting tomorrow, May 11 in Sacramento and Los Angeles and ending on Monday, May 15 in Bakersfield, Riverside and Coachella.

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#CABudget Battle: Stop CDCR Construction Plans!

CURB and member organizations are continuing to put pressure on the budget committees to fully implement Prop. 57 with our full recommendations in mind. They are listening and they are feeling the pressure. 

Tomorrow, April 26th, the Senate Budget Committee will be discussing CDCR’s Capital Outlay Plan which includes the conversion of Pelican Bay into Level II housing and other facility changes.

Can you let the Senate know that we need to close prisons, not convert them?

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#CABudget Battle: Prop.57 Assembly Hearing TODAY!

Last week about 30 Initiate Justice and CURB members came out to the Prop 57 Hearing in the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety. CDCR showed up to present their budget request for Prop 57 implementation, and we showed up to represent incarcerated people and their families! Members of Initiate Justice, CURB, Essie Justice Group, Outside Solutions and other community organizations offered public comment on the Prop 57 regulations. The full hearing can be viewed HERE.

Today April 24th at 2:30pm in room 437, the Assembly Budget Committee will be discussing Proposition 57 and I will be giving testimony!

 

Can you help us keep up the momentum by sending an email to the Assembly Budget Committee today?

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#CABudget Battle: Let’s keep the pressure on!

Thanks to those of you that took action to let the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to know that we will continue to fight to bring our loved ones home. Our next action to expand earned time credits and impact the emergency regulations is focused on the #CABudget process.

On Thursday, the Senate Budget Committee will be discussing Proposition 57 and the implementation of earned time credit expansion. Several community members will be present to share our recommendations and demand that our state elected officials listen to our call to action.

Can you help us out by sending an email to the Senate Budget Committee today?

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Excited to be a part of the CURB team!

Dear Supporter,

My name is Amber Rose Howard and you are all welcomed to call me by my first name, Amber Rose. I am very excited to serve as CURB’s Statewide Co-Coordinator alongside Ivette Alé. I am looking forward to getting to know each of our members and would also like for you all to know a little more about me as we begin working together.
I am a native southern Californian, raised in the Inland Empire’s city of Pomona. All of my education was completed in the Inland Empire, including an unconventional learning experience at West Valley Detention Center, as well as traditional undergraduate studies at the California State University, San Bernardino. After having lived through unfair criminal justice practices as a young adult and having been denied gainful opportunities to move my life onward and upward despite extraordinary efforts, I felt a sense of urgency to dedicate my life to fighting for justice and the dismantling of the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).

Before joining CURB, I served as a Community Organizer for All Of Us Or None, a national organizing effort to strengthen the voices of formerly incarcerated people to advocate for the full restoration of our human and civil rights. I met Diana Zuñiga at the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Quest for Democracy Day of Advocacy in 2014. After learning that CURB’s focus is decriminalization, decarceration, divestment from law enforcement agencies, and reinvestment into communities most impacted by the PIC, I realized that my vision for a safe and just society is reflected in the work done at CURB.

It is with great honor that I step into the Statewide Co-Coordinator role at CURB. The lives of those trapped in human cages across our state, as well as their families on the outside are depending on people like CURB members to restore hope and community. Each day and in every way I will offer my best efforts at leading the CURB coalition. With your continued support, and my partnership with Ivette Alé, I know that we will continue to move mountains!

My name is Ivette Alé and I am thrilled to be joining the coalition alongside Amber Rose. Like too many of us, I have been directly impacted by the prison system and draw on those experiences as I step into the Statewide Co-Coordinator position with CURB. I look forward to hearing your individual stories as we forge relationships together, and would like to share a bit of my story with you now.

My family immigrated to Southern California from Mexico when I was four years old and I have spent the majority of my life as an undocumented person. Throughout the last 20 years, I have watched my father cycle through the prison system and experienced first hand the destabilizing effects the PIC has on families and communities. So much of my passion for social justice is rooted in and informed by this personal history.

My education brought me up to the Bay Area, where I spent my undergrad years at the University of California, Berkeley. During this time, I became activated through organizing labor rights clinics with Centro Legal de la Raza, participating in Justice Now’s summer internship program, and leading LGBTQ organizing as a Hargraves Fellow with And Castro for All. After college, I continued building in New York City as a grassroots organizer, LGBTQ community leader and artist. In 2010 I founded Azucar, an incubator for Queer, Trans People of Color (QTPOC) artists and fundraising platform for LGBTQ and immigrant rights organizations.

After many years in New York, I came back to Los Angeles determined to organize with the communities that shaped my youth. I have continued organizing queer artists spaces as part of the THrōz Collective, as well advocating for my community through more mainstream channels. I currently serve on the board of my neighborhood council and as a Budget Advocate representing South Los Angeles’ District 9. It was my work as a Budget Advocate pushing back on police spending that lead me straight to CURB, and I could not be more excited to push back on injustice together! Armed with the understanding that my liberation is tied to our collective liberation, I am fully committed to realizing the coalition’s goals and dreams for our communities. I could not imagine a better partner in this fight than Amber Rose Howard and I know that together we will reach new heights!

We look forward to working with each of you. If you need to get a hold of us you can reach us at amberrose@curbprisonspending.org and ivette@curbprisonspending.org.

In solidarity,

Amber Rose Howard and Ivette Alé
Statewide Co-Coordinators
Californians United for a Responsible Budget

 

 

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