In the fall of 2003, policy makers in Sacramento were considering the possibility of closing a women’s prison in response to budget cuts. CURB began in the winter of 2003 in Oakland, when a meeting was called for individuals and organizations working on prison, jail, and youth justice issues to reach consensus on what prisons should be prioritized for closure. Although the opportunity to close the women’s prison was lost, enthusiasm remained strong for the group to continue meeting and advancing the goal of closing down prisons. The small group grew into a statewide alliance when more organizations recognized a crucial link between closing down prisons and reaching their overall mission.
In 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed a commission to study and recommend an overhaul of the bloated California prison system. The Governor’s commission, however, was made up of people like former Governor George Deukmejian, who were responsible for much of the expansion of the California prison system. Because the Governor’s commission failed to include the different constituencies impacted by the prison crisis, most notably people who have been in prison and their families, CURB appointed its own Commission, which includes people who have been in prison, scholars, and community advocates. The CURB Commission issued a report recommending closure of 4 state prisons. Click here to read it.
CURB informs elected representatives and conducts extensive media campaigns, and has held People’s Hearings in Sacramento, Fresno, and Los Angeles, as well as demonstrations in Oakland, San Francisco, Fresno, Delano, and Los Angeles. CURB has helped defeat over 140,000 new prison and jail beds proposed since 2004.