Margaret Dooley-Sammuli

margaret dooley sammuliMargaret Dooley-Sammuli is Senior Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Advocate, ACLU of California. Before joining the ACLU, she was the deputy state director in Southern California with the Drug Policy Alliance, where she led the organization’s statewide criminal justice advocacy. In 2008, she was deputy campaign manager for Yes on Prop 5, a ballot initiative that would have significantly expanded access to drug treatment while safely reducing prison overcrowding. Before joining DPA, she spent five years in China where she was an editor with the Economist Intelligence Unit. She holds a degree from Bryn Mawr College.

Behind Many ‘Mom and Pop’ Bail Bonds Shops Is a Huge Insurance Corporation Out to Profit from Misery

Eleven years ago, San Diego, California, resident Melodie Henderson was arrested for assault after a minor altercation with a former coworker. Her bail was set at $50,000. This was before a judge ever laid eyes on her. Although she was employed, there was just no way Melodie would ever have been able to come up with the $50,000 she needed to post bail to be released while she fought her case in court. Her other option was to pay a bail bonds company a 10% nonrefundable fee, but with a $50,000 … [Read more...]

Asset Forfeiture Takes Wealth from Communities of Color

Did you know that in 2014 police took more property from people in the U.S. than burglars did? Frightening, but absolutely legal. Police are allowed to take your money and property even if you aren’t convicted of a crime, or arrested. California law enforcement agencies use federal civil asset forfeiture laws to plump up their budgets and unfairly target Californians. You can help change this here. A report we released today finds that, although this tactic of policing for profit can … [Read more...]

Communities Not Jails

Where we spend our money says a lot about our priorities. That’s why California’s legislature must reject the governor’s plan to spend $250 million more taxpayer dollars to build new jails. Since 2007 alone, the state has spent $2.2 billion on jail construction. That’s quite enough — especially when we know that investing more in prevention and treatment is far more affordable and effective at breaking the cycle of incarceration. The quarter of a billion dollars proposed in this year’s budget … [Read more...]

Prop 47 Savings Belong to Communities

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget released today includes the current Department of Finance estimate of savings resulting from Proposition 47. This first estimate puts FY 2015-16 savings at just $29.3 million, far below all previous estimates and despite a clearly established reduction in state incarceration of people for low-level offenses in 2015 over previous years. The estimate announced today reflects a largely political choice to calculate savings in a way that keeps taxpayer … [Read more...]

Voters Agree: It’s Time to End “Theft by Cop”

Imagine you’re on your way to buy a used car and a police officer pulls you over. After asking you a few questions, the officer asks to search your car. Knowing you’ve done nothing wrong, you agree. The next thing you know, the officer is telling you that he’s suspicious that you have $2,500 in cash – and he takes it. You explain that you’re on your way to buy a car. He doesn’t believe you and tells you that if you want your cash back, you’ll have to fight for it in court. You might be … [Read more...]

Drug Sentencing Reform Bill Approved by California Assembly

Sacramento is at this very moment considering spending another one billion taxpayer dollars on prisons. That’s crazy! We’ve given our elected officials a better option: pass modest drug sentencing reform that would actually safely reduce incarceration costs. Well, guess what?! They’ve done it! Last Wednesday, the California State Assembly passed SB 649, a bill authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) which gives local prosecutors the flexibility to charge low-level, non-violent drug … [Read more...]