LA County Passes Civilian Oversight Commission – Adelanto Attempts to Build a New Jail

This week, we have had some major developments in the fight against mass-incarceration! unnamed-2

On Tuesday, emboldened with newly-elected leadersip, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors finally approved the creation of a civilian oversight commission of the embattled Sheriff’s Department.

Read about Tuesday’s decision here!

This crucial victory has been a long time coming, and shows that we can make progress when elected leaders embrace new ideas!

There is a lot of work left to do, if we are to ensure that the commission is reflective of the people it should represent: those individuals and families who have been impacted by mass-incarceration and Sheriff’s violence.  But we at CURB know that our movement is getting stronger every day, and with supporters like yourself on-call to help us, more victories will surely come.

However, there is still more work to do to stop Adelanto’s jail expansion!

Last night in the High Desert, CURB and our allies gathered at the Adelanto City Council meeting to oppose approval of the $327 million dollar construction of an overflow jail for Los Angeles County.  We listened to Doctor Crants, private-prison enterpreneur, spin his tales of the revenue the jail will bring to the city.  However, there is an outrageous gap in his plan!  

“Doc” Crants admitted he has no assurances from the Board of Supervisors that L.A. wants this jail!  

We already know that neighboring Victorville doesn’t want the jail, and you can read about it here.

We need to let the L.A supervisors know that they can stop this expansion.  Without their approval of lease-revenue bonds, the project will suffer a crushing setback.  We are going to keep the pressure on the new leadership to keep making the right decisions, like they have with the civilian oversight commission.  You can help.

Sign and circulate our petition to stop Adelanto expansion! 

Posted in Uncategorized by admin. Comments Off

Stop Expansion in Adelanto!

Dear Supporter,

Sign the Petition

Screenshot 2014-12-08 11.14.55

Join us in Adelanto

 

This Wednesday, the new Adelanto City Council will discuss their plans to build more jails, and one of those facilities is supposedly for Los Angeles County jail overflow.

But even LA officials are stating they do not want more jails!

Last week, the L.A. Times reported: “Solis warned of an ‘incarceration-industrial complex that will sink our economy as well as our society if we allow it to.’  Kuehl said in an interview that she wants to revisit a recent decision by the previous board to spend $2 billion building jail facilities, including a new central jail.”

These transitions in leadership mark a crucial moment for us to change the direction of our communities; from one of incarceration and violence, to community solutions and support.

Will you join us this week to provide public comment voicing your opposition to more jails in Adelanto?

1) No New Jail for Adelanto – City Council Meeting

When: Wednesday, Dec. 10th at 7pm

Where: 11600 Air Expy, Adelanto, California 92301

2) Can’t come on the 10th? Sign the petition against Adelanto Expansion to be delivered to the new City Council on Wednesday!

Now that we have some new leadership, join me in supporting changes that newly-elected officials can make!

Posted in Featured Content Gallery Regular Content by admin. Comments Off

The LA tide is finally turning: Join us this week!

Dear Supporter,

Come out to the LA BOS

Join us in Adelanto

L.A.Times tips us off again! Newly-elected L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis and current Supervisor Ridley-Thomas are bringing the Civilian Review Board back up for a vote on Tuesday!

And, on Wednesday the new Adelanto City Council will discuss the plans to expand their jails, one of which is supposed to be for LA County jail overflow.  A year ago we defeated sending 512 people from LA County to Taft in Kern County. 

And now Adelanto is proposing a 3,264 bed jail to send Angelenos 85 miles away from their community.

These transitions in leadership continue to mark a moment for us to change the direction of our communities; from incarceration and violence to community solutions and civilian support.

Will you join us this week?

1) Los Angeles Board of Supervisors Civilian Review Board Vote

When: Tuesday, Dec. 9th at 9am

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

2)  No New Jail for Adelanto - City Council Meeting

When: Wednesday, Dec. 10th at 7pm

Where: 11600 Air Expy, Adelanto, California 92301

Interested? Email me to carpool from LA at Diana@curbprisonspending.com.

3) Can’t come on the 10th? Sign the petition against Adelanto Expansion to be delivered to the new Adelanto City Council on Wednesday!

Now that we have some new leadership, will you continue to join me in supporting changes that the newly-elected can make?

 

Posted in Featured Content Gallery Regular Content by admin. Comments Off

New LA Supervisors Question $2 Billion Jail Plan​, Diana Zuñiga of LA No More Jails Responds

For Immediate Release – December 3, 2014

MEDIA CONTACT: Christina Tsao – 213-864-8931 or christina@curbprisonspending.org

Statement by Diana Zuñiga, Statewide Field Organizer for Californians United for a Responsible Budget and member of the LA No More Jails Campaign, on new LA Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl’s statements regarding the $2.3 billion jail plan. Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times reported that “Solis warned of an ‘incarceration-industrial complex that will sink our economy as well as our society if we allow it to.’ Kuehl said in an interview that she wants to revisit a recent decision by the previous board to spend $2 billion building jail facilities, including a new central jail.”

“I applaud Supervisors Kuehl and Solis for questioning both mass incarceration and the massive jail plan here in LA. It’s time for Los Angeles to abandon the failed policies that have imprisoned more and more Angelenos over the last several decades. LA has already seen an unexpected decrease in the jail population, this will continue with the increase in the use of split sentencing, the implementation of Prop. 47, and the DA’s comprehensive mental health diversion program. ​It is essential that under new leadership, LA County immediately cancel the plan to build a mega jail and refuse to send Angelenos to be housed in jails in Adelanto, or any other county, and invest in robust community-based alternatives to imprisonment.”

Last month, California voters passed Proposition 47 the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, which reclassified drug possession for personal use and petty-theft-related offenses as misdemeanors. A recent report from the Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice suggests that once implemented, LA could reduce their jail population by 7,200 and save the County up to $170 million annually.

For more information, or for interviews with Diana Zuñiga or other LA No More Jails Members, please contact Christina Tsao at 213-864-8931 or by email at christina@curbprisonspending.org

# # # # #

CURB is a statewide coalition of over 70 organizations working to reduce the number of people in prison in California and the number of prisons and jails in the state.

LA No More jails is a Los Angeles based coalition of advocates, service providers, formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones working together to redirect realignment funds towards community-based alternatives instead of expanding LA County’s jail capacity.

Posted in Uncategorized by admin. Comments Off

How to CURB Prison Spending on #GivingTuesday

Click on links below for sample tweets!!

Give $11: CURB has been fighting prisons for 11 years!

Give $28: To celebrate Diana’s 28th birthday!Twitter

Give $41: Stop 41 counties from building new jails!

Give $65: 65 orgs fighting for #N0MoreJails!

Give $145: We got 145 media hits so far in 2014!

Give $230: Help us fight the LA $2.3 billion jail plan!

Be the lucky winner of these 4 exciting Raffle Prizes

Remember if you make an online donation to CURB on #GivingTuesday you are automatically entered into our raffle!

Anyone who makes an online donation to CURB on Tuesday, December 2nd will be automatically added to our #GivingTuesday Raffle!

The 4 awesome prizes are: A Free Our Sisters poster, a Bed Bath and Beyond Gift Card, a SIGNED copy of “Resistance Behind Bars; The Struggles of Incarcerated Women” by Victoria Law, and CURB and #NoMoreJails Buttons!

http://tinyurl.com/GivingTuesdayCURB

Click on images below for sample Facebook posts!!

CURB has been fighting prison and jail expansion for 11 years!

CURB has been fighting prison and jail expansion for 11 years!

 

CURB Organizer Diana Zuniga turns 28!

CURB Organizer Diana Zuniga turns 28!

41 counties in California are trying to build new jails.  Let's stop them.

41 counties in California are trying to build new jails. Let’s stop them.

 

 

CURB has over 65 member organizations!

CURB has over 65 member organizations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CURB got 145 media hits so far in 2014!

CURB got 145 media hits so far in 2014!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GT_logo2013-final1-1024x85

Posted in Featured Content Gallery by admin. Comments Off

Kamala Harris Said What??

AGPictoDraftLast Friday, Federal judges *again* ordered California to speed up the releases of people from prison (for those of you keeping score at home, this is the 2nd such order in 11 months)!

And you won’t believe what supposedly progressive Attorney General Kamala Harris argued: if forced to release people, our “prisons would lose an important labor pool.” 

This is disgusting on every level -Tell Attorney General Harris: Don’t Keep Prisoners Locked Up to Keep Prisons Running!

Help us get 1,000 people to take action! This proves again that if we’re going to win anything meaningful, we’re going to have to push and prod and cajole even “progressives” every step of the way.

Kamala Harris needs to hear from us, and quickly.

Click here to send a clear message to the Attorney General: Californians want people coming home from prison. 

   

 

Posted in Uncategorized by admin. Comments Off

Getting a Finger on the Pulse with Emily Harris

CURB Emily Harris

Interview by Dick Price on Justice Not Jails from November 17th, 2014.

Now that Prop 47 has passed and a new Sheriff will soon be walking the beat in Los Angeles County, we thought we’d engage Emily Harris, the statewide coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget, which has been battling so hard to push California and, in particular, Los Angeles County out of its “build more cages” mentality.

Working out of CURB’s Oakland office, Emily brings experience working with women in prison throughroles in Free Battered WomenCalifornia Coalition for Women Prisoners, and the Prison Creative Arts Project. She holds a Master’s of Social Work with a focus on policy and community organizing, and a BA in Psychology and German from the University of Michigan.

At CURB, Emily communicates a bird’s eye view of the coalition’s work and well-being, coordinates workgroup activities, represents the coalition before allies, and ensures overall cohesion and strategic movement within CURB.

This weekend, she took time from her busy schedule to answer a few of our questions.

Dick Price: Now that Proposition 47 has passed, your organization has joined others in expressing at least some reservations about its implementation and chances for success. Can you summarize those concerns?

Emily Harris: If implemented effectively, Prop 47 will significantly reduce the prison population, which we wholeheartedly support. We are grateful both that thousands of people who are currently in jail will be free, and that those who have relevant sentences in the future will spend significantly less time in cages, and some will never go to jail at all. At the same time, we are concerned about where the predicted $150-$250 million in annual savings from this measure will go.

First, the majority of funds (65%) will go to the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) for grants to “public agencies providing mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment to reduce recidivism of people in the justice system.” Sounds good, right? Until you realize that the BSCC is the same board that funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to construct new prisons and jails throughout the state, and that in the last few years, many of those jails have been pitched as “mental health treatment facilities.”

The Board is overwhelmingly composed of different types of cops, which should be our first red flag. (It includes Secretary of the California Department of Corrections Jeffery Beard, along with three Sheriffs, two Chief Probation Officers and one Chief of Police.) It’s not shocking when that group of people thinks that the best way to invest in mental health treatment is to build shiny new jails. Sheriff’s aren’t social service providers, and it is dangerous to pretend they are. But unless there is significant community pressure, the Prop 47 funds being directed through this board will likely facilitate the broadening of law enforcement-controlled “diversions.” This wouldn’t shrink the system, but would actually expand it.

CURB wants substance abuse, mental health, and job training programs to be funded in the community. While we believe everyone in prison or jail should get access to programming, we don’t think that requires building more jails—if anything it requires letting more people go. We need to divert many more people and a lot more money away from prisons and jails. Going to jail should not be a prerequisite for getting access to social programs.

Similarly, a quarter of the savings from Prop 47 is directed to the Department of Education to “reduce truancy” and support “at-risk students” or “victims of crime.” Patrisse Cullors-Brignac, the Director of Dignity and Power Now, reminds us that we need to “make sure that the school allocation money will fund counselors and restorative justice practices, not school police, surveillance cameras, or high-power weapons as we’ve seen in the past, especially in L.A.” Following through on the promise of “education not incarceration” means funding smaller class sizes and social workers, so we must watch this money carefully.

Lastly, the public relations campaign for this proposition may have done more damage than good in the long term. The campaign essentially promised that most people would stay in prison, and used fear-mongering about people who are inside on serious charges. If you weren’t listening closely enough, you may have mistaken them for the opposition. We need to stop pretending that prisons solve the violence in our communities, or we’ll never actually end that harm or end mass incarceration. We have to shift the focus towards aggressive parole and sentencing reforms for everyone, while building non law enforcement controlled services and institutions that support healthy, strong communities.

CURB Emily HarrisDick Price: You and CURB have been in the forefront of the battle against building even more prisons in prison-rich California and against expanding LA County’s huge jail system. What’s next for those efforts and what needs to be done?

Emily Harris: The fight against prison and jail expansion is far from over. With the majority of counties looking to expand their jails we will continue to focus a lot of attention on LA. We know what ends up happening with LA’s jails will have a bellweather effect on the rest of the state and the nation. LA groups have been working tirelessly to make sure that people are able to access treatment, housing, and programs in the community, not in jail. DA Jackie Lacey and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas have responded and are committed to reducing the number of people with mental health issues by developing diversion efforts. We are working to make sure that this plan is comprehensive and expanded so that it impacts a larger portion of people, especially people in women’s jails, people of color, and lower income folks.

We know that one of the most effective ways to stop expansion is to turn off the faucet of expansion dollars that is coming from Sacramento! We are anticipating that Governor Brown might get convinced by LA County to help bankroll the $2.3 million dollar jail expansion. Our members and allies who have been doing a great job delegitimizing LA County’s call for new mega jails are gearing up to bring that message to the Legislature, particularly to all of our newly elected Senators and Assembly Members.

Dick Price: You’ve worked tirelessly on prison-reform issues, both at CURB and at organizations before that, for a long time. Oftentimes people who get into this kind of work have some kind of deep personal connection to the issues. Can you say something about this in your case?

Emily Harris: Growing up, I had lots of questions about violence, accountability, safety, and what it meant to be a good neighbor. My childhood best friend grew up in a very abusive home and went to juvie after he started acting out. I remember thinking, “Oh good, when he gets back he’ll be better.” In reality, when he came back he was harder, angrier, more distant. Trying to understand this childhood experience led me to get involved with the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) at the University of Michigan. During my years at PCAP, I had a series of experiences in my personal life while simultaneously facilitating creative workshops in prisons that made me look at violence, systematic oppression, and the role of prisons in a new way.

During this time my younger brother was frequently being targeted by the cops—being pulled over, arrested, and drug-tested all the time. Each week, as I’d enter the grounds at Maxey Boys Training School (a maximum security prison for teenage boys) to facilitate a workshop, I was reminded that if my brother wasn’t white or affluent that his chances of going to prison like the young men I was performing plays with would have been much higher. The reality of who goes to prison and why became more and more clear to me.

My last three and a half years in Michigan, I participated in a weekly poetry workshop called Sisters With Unique Minds at Huron Valley Women’s Prison. It was there that I met some of my life-long mentors. Together we wrote poetry, gossiped, laughed, cried and wrote about our lives. In 2007, my last year in the workshop, we had two powerful poetry readings “Behind these Solitary Walls: A Symphony of Life” and “Echoes of A Million Women.” The writing we did for those performances was exposed and bold. We dug deep to tell stories about addiction, violent men in our lives, disappointment, fear and how members of the group creatively resisted conditions in prison.

CURB Emily HarrisThe more time I spent going inside, the angrier my writing about prisons became. The women in the group began to push me to walk the talk – to move away from writing poems and figure out how to get people back to their children, families and communities. I don’t think the group expected that challenge would take me to California, but later that year I took a job at Free Battered Women/California Coalition for Women Prisoners (a CURB member org) in San Francisco to learn how to get domestic violence survivors out of prison.

Dick Price: Prop 47 passed. A limited Ban the Box passed in LA. More DAs are turning to split sentencing. LA County’s new sheriff has publicly supported more diversion for mental health and substance abuse treatment outside the jail system. Does this trend go deep enough, fast enough for you? Is some more fundamental change in order?

Emily Harris: All of these important gains that are pushing us away from a lock-em up mentality are the result of years and years of organizing. However they are only the tip of the iceberg. The numbers speak for themselves; last week there were 135,890 people locked up in our state prisons. The majority are very, very far from their families and communities, especially the 8,661 who are imprisoned in out-of-state in prisons in Arizona, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. Over 3,800 people are isolated in long-term solitary confinement; the average time prisoners spend in these security housing units is 7.5 years. This doesn’t even include the nearly 7,000 people who currently spend months in “short-term” administrative segregation.

For years now our leadership has been pushing off responsibility for addressing the torture and deadly conditions in our prisons. As people across California were celebrating the passage of Prop 47, the supposedly progressive Attorney General Kamala D. Harris’ office was arguing against reducing sentences for those who participate in rehab or education programs because the California Department of Corrections would “lose an important labor pool.” It is shameful to not release people back to their communities because we need their labor in prison kitchens, janitorial, and groundskeeping crews to keep our prisons running. This example just goes to show how much more work is ahead.

We must claim our victories, while simultaneously being careful not to be satisfied with nibbling around the edges. Our jailers are having a harder time keeping the torture that is prison away from the awareness of the general public. Even though people are locked away far away from the public eye, the images of people living triple bunked in gyms and classrooms, stories of thousands of prisoners going on hunger strike, the photos of men beaten by LA deputies, the tales of women being illegally sterilized in Chowchilla, prisoners dying from Valley Fever—all of these stories are seeping out and adding to the growing consciousness of the general public. Much more fundamental change is in order, and requires that we continue to build momentum and pressure on discussion-makers while expanding the capacity of communities targeted most directly by imprisonment to lead the charge.

Dick Price: It would seem that November 4th’s election put more people in office in states and in Congress who are likely to espouse “Tough on Crime” rhetoric, rather than anything approaching “Smart on Crime.” Do you think the country’s current pissy mood will affect criminal justice reform efforts in the long term?

Emily Harris: The sweeping wins by conservative candidates across the country are alarming and I imagine will be a setback for the real change we need. The growing power of the Republican Party should serve as a reminder for us to be wary of groups like “Right on Crime.”

As the movement against mass incarceration gains momentum, we need to be very cautious of the types of co-optation that we are seeing from conservatives and moderates who want to spend less money on prisons but don’t actually care about people’s freedom and wellbeing—especially when we are talking about poor communities of color.

dick-price-hatWe need dramatic investments in affordable housing, living-wage jobs, and services for healing and recovery, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color. Conservatives primary motivation in reducing prison spending is to shrink government. We are trying to get the government to distribute our resources more equitably and to stop using prison as the primary response to poverty and social harm.

Dick Price, Editor

Posted in Featured Content Gallery by admin. Comments Off

Hell in Paradise Tonight at the Omni in Oakland

Pelican Bay State Prison is one of the largest prisons in our state. With close to 3 thousand men, and more than a third kept in solitary confinement, this prison is one of California’s most notorious for its unjust treatment of folks inside.

Join us tonight at the Omni in Oakland, for a performance of Hell in Paradise: My Visit to Pelican Bay State Prison.  A play written and preformed by Charlie Hinton, based off the prison letters of Clyde Jackson.

Hell in Paradise screening & Panel Discussion
The Omni, 4799 Shattuck Ave, Oakland
Friday November, 14, 7pm 

Followed by a panel discussion on Prisons: Budgets, Conditions and Resistance:

  • Danny Murrillo – UC Berkeley student and imprisoned at Pelican Bay SHU
  • Emily Harris – Californians for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
  • Annie Kane – Human Rights Pen Pals

 The event is free and is being hosted by the Bay Area Public School. I am looking forward to joining activists and the greater community in conversations on carceral California.

Posted in Uncategorized by admin. Comments Off

In push to keep mentally ill out of jail, county to expand crisis center

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey is heading up a task force focused on diverting mentally ill criminal defendants from jail. She spoke to the county Board of Supervisors Wednesday about her group’s work.

By Abby Sewell

la-me-ln-mental-health-diversion-20141112-001

L.A. County to expand crisis teams and psychiatric urgent care centers to divert the mentally ill from jail Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey supports county’s move to beef up psychiatric crisis response teams, centers

At the urging of Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and others lobbying to keep mentally ill people from being locked up in county jails, Los Angeles County supervisors voted Wednesday to fund several programs for people undergoing psychiatric crises.

The supervisors voted to use $40.9 million in state funding for opening three new 24-hour psychiatric urgent care centers, where police can bring people undergoing mental health crises instead of taking them to overcrowded emergency rooms or jail.

The money would also help pay for an estimated 560 new residential treatment beds and to create 14 new crisis response teams that send mental health workers — sometimes in conjunction with law enforcement — to respond to incidents involving people believed to be mentally ill.

The total cost of the new programs will be an estimated $109.4 million, to be paid for by the new grant money and other state funding programs.

Lacey, who is leading a task force studying diversion of the mentally ill, called the decision “huge.”

“Up until now, jail has been used to stabilize people,” she said.

consultant report commissioned by Lacey’s task force and released last month called for more crisis response teams and more drop-off centers.

The report found that “it’s often more time-efficient for law enforcement to book an individual into jail on a minor charge … rather than spend many hours waiting in a psychiatric emergency department for the individual to be seen.”

Monterey Park Police Chief Jim Smith, a member of the task force, told  supervisors that the expanded crisis centers will enable officers to “complete the intake process and be back on the street in 15 minutes rather than hours.”

Sheriff-elect Jim McDonnell praised Lacey for her “leadership in bringing together county leaders, justice system officials, mental health experts and community voices as we seek to develop a comprehensive plan for how our justice system addresses the challenges and concerns of those suffering from mental illness.”

The task force is expected to come to the board with a comprehensive set of recommendations early next year.

Dozens of advocates spoke in favor of the efforts to increase diversion, although some cautioned that they do not want to see more money going to locked psychiatric facilities or involuntary treatment.

Many of the advocates — as well as Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who retires next month — urged the board to put the brakes on a $2-billion plan to rebuild the dilapidated Men’s Central Jail until they see how many jail beds are freed up by the diversion programs.

Diana Zuniga, representing a coalition of groups opposed to the jail plan, said the number of county jail inmates will also be impacted by the passage of Proposition 47, which will reduce penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes, and the increased use of “split sentencing,” in which inmates are given shorter jail sentences, followed by mandatory probation.

“All of these are not separate from the $2-billion jail plan and will dramatically reduce the amount of people we have incarcerated in Los Angeles County jails,” Zuniga said.

Lacey said she believes the Men’s Central Jail needs to be replaced, but did not take a stance on what the size it should be.

Posted in Uncategorized by admin. Comments Off

Art Installation at LA Board of Sups TOMORROW

Dear Supporter,

Let’s re-imagine Los Angeles

Tomorrow, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors will hear an initial report from District Attorney Lacey regarding mental health diversion. This is a really positive step in the right direction and we need to be present to continue to urge our decision- makers to continue to take it a step further.

I think the report exposes tremendous suffering for mentally ill people and is further evidence that the county should abandon plans to spend $2 billion to replace the aging Men’s Central Jail.

We need to continue to make the connections between a comprehensive alternative to incarceration plan and the massive jail construction proposal.

Will you join me me tomorrow?

Dignity and Power Now, LA No More Jails, and so many others are organizing a press event for tomorrow. There will be an art installation hosted outside of the Board of Supervisors meeting. This interactive installation will give participants a window to two different futures for Los Angeles County; one shaped by incarceration and jail construction while the other emphasizing community solutions.

Where: 500 W Temple Street, LA, 90012

When:  Wednesday, November 12th at 9:00 am

Please come and envision a different Los Angeles with us! And check out this piece I was quoted in about the DA’s plan.

Thank you,


Mark-Anthony Johnson

Interim Co-Director for Dignity and Power Now, a member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget 

 

Posted in Regular Content by admin. Comments Off