How to Cut Prison Populations by 50 Percent

A growing number of criminal justice reform organizations, among them the ACLU, Rebuild the Dream, and Just Leadership USA, are uniting behind one big goal: to reduce the prison population by 50 percent within the next 10 to 15 years. View image | gettyimages.com ith 2.3 million Americans incarcerated in prisons and jails, a 50 percent reduction would mean changing sentencing and parole rules to cut the net population by more than 1 million people, either by releasing current inmates or … [Read more...]

Unlikely Cause Unites the Left and the Right: Justice Reform

For groups traditionally considered opponents, working together has required something of a leap of faith. But they say that they see an opening and are giving the new coalition three years to demonstrate results. sually bitter adversaries, Koch Industries and the Center for American Progress have found at least one thing they can agree on: The nation’s criminal justice system is broken. Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative Koch brothers, and the center, a … [Read more...]

L.A. County Pushes for More Realignment Funds

os Angeles County officials agreed last Tuesday to step up lobbying of the Legislature for more money to jail and care for lower-level felons who became the responsibility of counties under state prison realignment. The law, implemented two years ago, was intended to reduce state prison populations. But it also has ended up saving the state a substantial amount of money, county Chief Executive William T Fujioka said. Next year, according to state projections, Fujioka said, California … [Read more...]

Civil Rights Groups Demand California Prison End Discriminatory Hijab Practice

Last week, the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) sent a letter to the California Correctional Institution (CCI) demanding that its officers follow the law and allow Muslim women to wear their hijab, a religiously-mandated headscarf, during visits. Officers at the CCI in Tehachapi ordered a woman visiting her son to remove her hijab. They told her that if she refused … [Read more...]

Gavin Newsom to Lead Marijuana Legalization Study

Group of Leading Experts from State, Nation Will Study Potential Costs, Benefits of Taxing and Regulating Cannabis The ACLU of California announced Thursday that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will chair a blue ribbon panel that will study the complex legal and policy issues that must be resolved as California considers legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults. Comprised of leading legal, academic and policy experts from across the state and nation, the blue ribbon panel will engage in … [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...]

Federal Court Rules Immigration Detainees Deserve Fair Hearings

Recently, we won another victory against one of the most draconian parts of our immigration system: the federal government’s practice of putting immigrants in long-term detention without the basic due process of a bond hearing. In Rodriguez v. Robbins, a class action lawsuit brought by the ACLU, a federal district court held that the government must provide automatic bond hearings to immigrants detained six months or longer in the Los Angeles area while fighting their deportation cases. The … [Read more...]

Rally Legislators to Reduce Drug Possession Penalties

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Senior Policy Advocate at the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties requests our help getting California Senate Bill 649 passed. Authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and coauthored by Senators Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) and Hanna Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the bill reduces the penalties for certain controlled substances: Existing law provides that the unlawful possession of certain controlled substances, including, among others, opiates, opium, opium … [Read more...]

Immigration Detainees: Show Us the Numbers

As a result of a recent court ruling in Rodriguez v. Robbins, the government can no longer lock up immigration detainees for six months or longer without a bond hearing. Since this ground-breaking ruling went into effect, hundreds of immigration detainees in Southern California have had their first opportunity to ask a judge for release on bond. But the government refuses to disclose basic details about these hearings, keeping the public in the dark about how many detainees are winning … [Read more...]

California’s Great Prison Experiment

On February 22, 1998, Pete Gallagher arrived at Building 13 at Solano State Prison in Vacaville, California. It was Gallagher’s thirteenth year behind bars, and he’d already done time in Chino, Folsom, San Quentin and, most recently, the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility outside San Diego. Building 13 was large, open, fluorescent-lit and crammed with double bunks. Inmates were everywhere. It reminded Gallagher of a warehouse or a military barracks. He took one look, then found a … [Read more...]