FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New report slams state's alarming trend of jail expansion

October 15, 2015

Press teleconference: 12 pm PDT, October 15
Conference Call Line: 1-712-832-8300
Participant Access Code: 6874160
Speakers: Community organizers from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Francisco.

Press Contact: Lizzie Buchen, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
510-435-1176
lizzie@curbprisonspending.org

California — Today, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) released its fourth Decarceration Report Card, a comprehensive analysis of how counties in California are working to reduce their jail populations. This year, CURB has given each evaluated county a failing score after finding that jail expansion projects were prioritized across the state. The report card also provides recommendations for county and state decision-makers to realize the potential for decarceration provided by realignment, Prop 47, and other reforms.

“Californians are joining communities across the country in condemning the prioritization of policing and imprisonment as solutions to the problems faced by communities,” says Mauricio Najarro of Critical Resistance Oakland. “Real solutions lie in alternatives that don’t tear families apart, such as bail reform, pre-trial diversion, and investing in community resources.”

Over $2.2 billion of jail construction funding has been approved by the state for local jail construction. Twenty-three counties are already building new jails. Five are building two or more jails. And thirty-two counties are applying for the current round of jail construction funding. Many of these new jail projects are being promoted as efforts to improve services in the jails, particularly mental health and substance use programming and gender-responsiveness needs.

“We know jails are not mental health treatment providers, and we know that Black and Brown communities are most impacted by jailing and the lack of services,” says Mark-Anthony Johnson of Dignity and Power Now. “Counties need to strengthen and expand resources in the communities that are most criminalized.”

Through state and voter mandated reforms, California counties have an opportunity to significantly and sustainably reduce the number of people imprisoned in their jails. CURB’s Decarceration Report Card shows that counties across the board are failing to realize this potential as more jails are built and more sheriffs hired to staff them.

CURB, a statewide alliance of over 70 California organizations working to end the expansion of prisons and jails and to reduce the number of prisoners in the state, has been organizing to redirect funding towards decarceration efforts. CURB, along with its member organizations, will be holding a press teleconference today at 12:00 p.m. PDT to discuss the Report Card. Speakers will include local organizers from CURB member organizations, including Critical Resistance Oakland, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Dignity and Power Now, and the Alternatives to Jail Expansion Coalition.

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