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...]

Obama Appeals to American Exceptionalism

Here is BHO: ...when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth. Because he knows that we will parse him in this way, the President insists that his words be well chosen. Here he alludes unmistakably to the hoary and dangerous … [Read more...]

Jerry Brown’s Cynical, Unethical Prison Plan

California's governor was trained by Jesuits and understands what we mean by the words "moral economy." Nevertheless, the nation's oldest guv has gone completely off the rails in his rage against a federal court order to reduce state prison populations to 137.5 percent of their design capacity. Facing the court's mandate to get this done by year's end, Brown has balked and fulminated in the manner of George Wallace rather than heed the many constituencies, including State Senate Democrats, … [Read more...]

When Political Calculation Signals Moral Failure: Brown Prison Plan Concedes Too Much

During a week when the nation commemorates the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom, it is especially distressing to watch California Democrats yield to fearmongering and racism in their response to prison overcrowding. Dr. King liked to say that the real measure of a person’s character “is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” By this test Gov. Brown is failing us and failing to live up to his own standard of … [Read more...]

Torture Chambers Within Our State Prisons: Why We Must Stand with Those in Solitary

Justice Not Jails is about three main things: keeping people out of prison and jail, helping the formerly incarcerated re-establish themselves when they come out, and also supporting those who suffer abuse inside. Tonight we will gather in Norwalk to show our support for the California inmates (10,000 men at any given time) who are subjected to the torture of solitary confinement within the state prison system: lockdown within the dreaded Security Housing Units (or SHUs, as they … [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...]

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...]

Transformative Justice and Mass Incarceration: Can Faith Communities Help Create a New Frame?

From remarks given at a United Methodist Women’s Event in Los Angeles – April 27, 2013 Extreme individualism is a hallmark of American culture that owes a great deal to the Protestant concept of individual salvation. We believe that everyone can succeed, that everyone can choose to do good, and that those who fail to achieve and do good must be morally tainted in some way – must in fact be among the damned. In his book, Protestantism and the Spirit of Punishment, theologian Richard T. Snyder … [Read more...]

Mad About Money

We are just now on the cusp of Passover and Easter, which is why I thought it might be appropriate to talk about money and how it rules our culture. The rule of money being about as far removed from Passover and Easter values as you can get. Money being the equivalent of death, and these two deliverance narratives being all about life and love and justice. My concern is not just money’s power but money’s remarkable capacity to hide its power dimension and conceal its toxic potential. I mean … [Read more...]