Urge Gov. Brown’s Signature on Key Reform Bills

As Brian Goldstein reports, criminal justice reformers were able to win passage of some very important bills, but these pieces still require Gov. Brown's signature in order to become law. Here are three to write the governor about: AB 218 - This bans the "box" that people with felony conviction records must check on many employment forms. The bill applies to governmental agencies - excluding those that serve the very young, the very old, and the handicapped. It still permits background … [Read more...]

Governor Brown, California Legislature Squeezed on Criminal Justice Reforms

September is a pivotal time in California politics as state legislation must pass out of both houses of the legislature before the September 13 deadline and then Governor Brown has until October 13 by which he can sign or veto these bills. Both the legislature and Governor Brown are currently reviewing a wide range of juvenile and criminal justice policies that will have a long-term impact on the state. California continues to work through the implications of Realignment, and develop a safe … [Read more...]

Civil Rights Leaders Tell Governor Brown to End School Suspension Gap

Civil rights leaders are saying the time is now to close the divide in California out-of-school suspensions for students of color and students with disabilities. The nation’s top civil rights leaders from across the country signed a letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown urging him to stand with them in addressing the inequities in school discipline and sign Assembly Bill 420, authored by Assembly Member Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). AB 420 would help ensure that out-of-school suspension is … [Read more...]

California’s Prison Mess

Under a 4-year-old order to reduce the state's prison population, Gov. Jerry Brown is preparing, finally, to file a plan with the court outlining how he and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation intend to comply. They have been dragging their feet long enough — and in fact are continuing to do so. They lost their request last week to block the order and are now pressing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to get out from under a Dec. 31 deadline. The longer they wait, the … [Read more...]

From State Prison to LA County: Ready or Not

As I write this Saturday morning, thousands of California prison inmates enter their fifth day of hunger strike to protest -- among other abuses -- long-term solitary confinement, otherwise known in the US and around the world as torture. Even after the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) threatened retaliatory disciplinary action, more than 7,000 persisted in refusing all sustenance. I'm thinking of those brothers and sister even as I try to make sense of the … [Read more...]

LA County Officials Fail to Act – and Public Safety Suffers

Los Angeles County officials have a powerful tool at their disposal to keep felons from committing more crimes in the future – but they’re not using it. As the L.A. Times explained in its recent editorial “Stop the revolving jail door,” ‘split sentencing’ has the potential to help offenders and crime victims alike, by “breaking the cycle of offending, being locked up, returning to the streets and offending again.” Despite the clear benefits of split sentences – which involve shorter jail … [Read more...]

Justice Not Jails Gathering Goes Deep on Strategy

The diverse group of 125 leaders who gathered Saturday under the Justice Not Jails banner at Holman United Methodist Church  are resolved to be about doing and not merely talking. Presenters covered a lot of ground--from the theology of restorative justice to the common threads of racism underlying mass incarceration and immigrant detention to the reasons why LA County is doing such a relatively poor job of implementing AB 109 Realignment. But the conferees really took the lead in the breakout … [Read more...]

Big Day in Sacramento Tomorrow: Make Your Calls TODAY

Tomorrow, July 2, the California Senate Judiciary Committee will consider AB 218, the must-win "ban the box" measure that would end the current practice of requiring public sector job applicants to check a box if they have a felony conviction. It would be really good if two Republican senators from our area--Joel Anderson of Riverside and Mimi Walters of Irvine--could hear from us. Sen. Anderson's contact info: 916.651.4036; Senator.Anderson@ senate.ca.gov. Sen. Walters' contact info: (916) … [Read more...]

Stop the Revolving Jail Door

Criminal defendants convicted of felonies in California used to be sentenced to state prison. Most, after serving 50% of their terms, were released on parole and returned to their communities. And of them, most ended up back in prison, either because they committed new crimes or because they were caught violating parole. California was good at running felons through a revolving door and very bad at guiding their safe return to society: getting the addicted off drugs, getting treatment for the … [Read more...]

LA Supervisors: Why Oppose Ban the Box?

A Pointed Question for LA County Supervisors: Why Oppose AB 218 (the "Ban the Box" Bill)?? Populous Los Angeles County gets the lion's share of the sisters and brothers coming out of prison under AB 109 Realignment and also as a result of the passage of Prop 36, which gives Three Strikes people a chance at re-sentencing and release. Everyone knows that the number one challenge re-entering people face is the need to find gainful employment. Governmental bodies, which have an obvious stake in … [Read more...]