Brown Picks Becerra for Attorney General

California’s wily governor just pulled a fast one with his announcement Thursday that he was appointing U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles to replace Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris when she moves to the U.S. Senate next month. No one saw this coming. Apparently, not even Becerra, who told a Sacramento Bee reporter that it was a “whirlwind.” The names of possible appointees had been circulating among political circles for months. Becerra’s wasn’t among them. The candidates were primarily men … [Read more...]

8 Ways Jeff Sessions Could Change Criminal Justice

Under Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican reported to be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Attorney General, the Justice Department — like much of the federal government — is poised to undergo a radical shift. The great majority of criminal prosecutions take place at the state level: About 211,000 people are locked up in federal prisons, compared with 1.3 million in state prisons, according to this useful chart from the Prison Policy Initiative. But Sessions would set the agenda … [Read more...]

Will Civil Rights Protections Survive the Trump Era?

Two of the nation’s most powerful civil rights organizations signaled Thursday that they hoped to persuade the incoming Administration to support existing bipartisan efforts for justice reform. But they also warned they would mount challenges—including legal challenges—if President-elect Donald Trump tried to implement the some of the more controversial “law and order” policy pledges he made during the campaign or otherwise turn back the clock on civil rights achievements to date. (On Friday, … [Read more...]

Post-Election Protesting? Know Your Rights to Demonstrate – #ACLUTimeMachine

Leading up to the election, last-minute get-out-the-vote pleas were everywhere: “Vote Tuesday. Protest Wednesday, Thursday, all weekend if you want.” In response to the news of Donald Trump’s election as president to the United States, people have already gathered, rallied, and protested – and continue to do so – everywhere from New York to Oakland. You have the right to speak out, today and every other day. But what exactly does that mean when you decide to demonstrate? What’s allowed and … [Read more...]

Detained Immigrants Aren’t Awaiting Deportation. They’re Awaiting Justice

Search online for the phrase “immigration detention” and you’ll notice lots of hits over the past few months – mostly because the federal government now holds a record number of immigrants in detention facilities.That number will soon surpass 45,000 – a mid-sized city of immigrants locked in prison-like conditions. This week, over two hundred organizations, including the ACLU, wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson expressing alarm over record immigration detention … [Read more...]

Did Justice Spending Wasted $3.4 Trillion?

Communities United, Make the Road New York, and Padres & Jóvenes Unidos have just released a new report, The $3.4 Trillion Mistake: The Cost of Mass Incarceration and Criminalization, and How Justice Reinvestment Can Build a Better Future for All, detailing how the U.S.’s misguided criminal justice policies wasted $3.4 trillion over the last three decades that could have instead been used to more effectively address the root causes of crime and meet critical community needs. The report … [Read more...]

California Legislature Criminal Justice Report Card Launches

Led by LA Progressive’s publishers, a team of two dozen Los Angeles-based criminal justice activists has just released a new Criminal Justice Report Card in time for November’s critical election. By looking at important criminal justice legislation enacted over the past several years, this first scorecard gives readers a snapshot of the performance of California’s legislators at a time when much good criminal justice reform is being done but when many terrific battles still lie ahead. Go … [Read more...]

Retooling America’s Prosecutors

Prosecutors, who are among the most powerful actors in the criminal justice system, have been targets of public criticism in recent years. The main reason is an accumulation of wrongful convictions. A National Registry of Exonerations has identified   1,884 such cases, although some date from the 1980s. Even if the vast majority of cases filed by prosecutors are on target, it just takes a few major errors— even if they were committed decades ago—to cast a pall over the profession as a … [Read more...]

California Embraces Criminal-Justice Reform

More than 40 years after ushering in tough crime laws that led to massive prison overcrowding, Gov. Jerry Brown is spending millions of dollars to try to reform California's criminal justice system. Brown wants to make thousands of nonviolent inmates eligible for early parole and revamp decades-old determinate sentencing laws that he acknowledges came with "unintended consequences." The fourth-term Democratic governor's push for a state constitutional amendment has set off a power struggle … [Read more...]

Making Things a Little Fairer in California, One Bill at a Time

California now has some of the strongest protections against policing for profit in the country Working with a broad coalition of racial justice, immigrants’ rights, labor, and civil libertarian organizations, we sponsored and passed SB 443, a bill to rein in civil asset forfeiture abuse. For years, California police have used federal law to take and keep a share of someone’s money or property without convicting, charging, or even arresting that person for a crime. This tipped the scales of … [Read more...]