Lizzie Buchen

Lizzie BuchenLizzie Buchen is Statewide Advocacy and Communications Co-coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), working out of Oakland. Earlier, she was a member of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) policy team. She holds an M.S. in neuroscience from UCSF and has worked in journalism and prisoner rehabilitation. She is also a volunteer adviser for the San Quentin News, a monthly newspaper produced by prisoners at San Quentin State Prison.
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Governor Reneges on Promise for Sustainable Prison Population Reduction, Funds New Jail Construction

Despite years of promises to find a long-term solution to California’s prison crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2016-17 budget projects future prison population growth, extends the use of in-state and out-of-state contract beds, spends $250 million on new jail expansion, refurbishes the Norco prison that has been slated for closure for years, and lacks any reforms that would meaningfully reduce the prison population. Rather than investing in vital community-based programs, the budget focuses on … [Read more...]

California Jails Fail Mentally Ill Inmates

Mental health care in California's jails is a disaster. Day after day, we hear about the long wait lists for treatment programs, the over- and under-medication, the reliance on solitary confinement for suicide prevention, and the lack of mental health training for sheriff's deputies. Unfortunately, counties across the state—including Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, San Mateo and San Francisco—share the same myopic response to their shameful treatment offerings: pouring money into jail … [Read more...]

Troubled Young People Deserve Compassion, Not Punishment

At the turn of the 20th Century, Lucy Flower, my grandmother’s great grandmother, established the world’s first juvenile court inside the Cook County courthouse in central Chicago. Flower, who had been orphaned, was horrified by the misery and bleak futures of the city’s poorest children, and believed their criminal behaviors should be handled differently than that of adults. She and the other early “child-savers” viewed children and young teenagers as victims, neglected by their parents and … [Read more...]

What Crime Victims Really Want

Flipping through this year’s proposed criminal justice legislation, it is hard to miss Crime Victims United (CVU), a seemingly-omnipresent victims’ rights group that registers strong support for tough-on-crime legislation and adamant opposition to bills seeking to reform sentencing laws or reduce incarceration. Their stance is in line with the conventional wisdom that victims want vengeance and favor a punitive approach to criminal justice. But despite CVU’s dominance in the media and in … [Read more...]

Brown’s Revised Budget Discriminates Against Mentally Ill

April was a grim month for legislators hoping to chip away at Realignment, as some 20 bills proposing to do so died in committee. Last week, however, one such bill saw hope for new life. Gov. Brown’s revised budget, released May 14, revived a bill requiring that certain people with mental illness be supervised by state parole, rather than county probation, regardless of their current offense or mental health status. The bill stigmatizes people who have suffered from mental illness by shackling … [Read more...]