Coalition Defeats Two Major Prison & Jail Construction Proposals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 29th, 2014

Coalition Defeats Two Major Prison & Jail Construction Proposals

MEDIA CONTACT: Diana Zuñiga, Californians United for a Responsible Budget

diana@curbprisonspending.org or 213-864-8931

California – Members of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) acted swiftly this legislative session to defeat two bills which would have rammed forward over $4 billion in prison and jail construction money [AB 2256 (Gorell) and SB 1377 (Nielson)].

“Today we preserved the possibility that realignment might result in a turn away from three decades of destructive criminal justice policy,” said Emily Harris of CURB who is in attendance at today’s hearings. “Building more jails and more prisons would have continued policies that have starved education and social services of funding and would have sentenced future generations to a state that spends on cages but not on care, we hope to use this momentum to push for further cancellations of prison & jail expansion dollars in this years proposed budget.”

CURB, a statewide alliance of over 50 California organizations working to end the expansion of prisons and jails and to reduce the number of prisoners in the state, has been organizing large-scale opposition to the bills.

SB 1377 (Nielson), which would have added $2.8 billion dollars for the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation to build 32,000 new prison beds, failed 2-5 in the Senate Public Safety Committee on April 22nd.  The author was granted reconsideration, but did not bring the bill up for reconsideration at today’s last Senate Public Safety Committee Hearing.

AB 2356 (Gorell), which would have increased new jail construction dollars from $500 million to $1.2 billion received early push back from advocates across the state.  Assemblymember Gorell pulled the bill three times from the Assembly Public Safety Committee agenda, today’s Assembly Public Safety Hearing was the last opportunity for the bill to be heard. The earliest the bill could be reintroduced is January 2015, unless Gorell was to “gut and amend” an existing bill.

Advocates are continuing to pressure Legislative leadership to cancel $500 million in jail expansion money proposed in the 2014-15 budget, by proposing a series of alternatives What California Could Do With $500 Million, Instead of Build New Jails“. Additionally, advocates are pushing for the cancellation of a series of proposals to expand the state prison system including contracts with private facilities (MacFarland, Cal City etc.) or opening closed state facilities (DeWitt Nelson & North California Women’s Facility).

The over 45 organizations joining the call against SB 1377 and/or AB 2356: All of Us or None – National, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Friends Service Committee, A New Path, Architects Designers Planners for Social Responsibility, California Calls, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, California Families Against Solitary Confinement, Californians for Safety and Justice, California Partnership, Community Works: Project What!, Critical Resistance, Communities United Against Violence, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Courage Campaign, Dignity and Power Now, Drug Policy Alliance, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes, Fair Chance Project, Friends Committee on Legislation California, Inland Congregations United for Change, Isidore Recycling, Justice Now, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, National Lawyers Guild- SF Bay Area Chapter, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, PICO California, Returning Home, The Sentencing Project, Sin Barras, Starting Over, Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI), The Other Death Penalty Project, The Sentencing Project, UC Berkeley Black Student Union, United Against Police Terror San Diego, Violence Prevention Coalition, Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), Women’s Council of the CA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Women’s Foundation & Youth Justice Coalition.

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