California Supreme Court Upholds Local Medical Marijuana Bans

Last week, the California Supreme Court held that localities may entirely ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within their jurisdictions in a closely watched case, City of Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center.   The result of the Court’s ruling is that tens of thousands of legitimate medical marijuana patients in California will be without safe and legal access to medical marijuana.  To date more than 200 localities have banned dispensaries … [Read more...]

Nationwide Efforts to “Ban the Box”

Maryland Becomes Latest State to “Ban the Box” 50 municipalities and 9 states have removed questions about criminal record from job applications, opting to ask later in interview process Campaigns underway in 6 states; Minnesota poised to expand its current law to cover private sector hiring Maryland on Thursday became the ninth state to “ban the box,” removing questions about criminal history from state job applications and postponing such questions until later in the hiring process. It is … [Read more...]

Bill Reducing Drug Possession Penalty Passes California Senate

Last Thursday, the California Senate approved SB649, which will give prosecutorial and judicial discretion to charge possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use as a felony or a misdemeanor as the case warrants, by a 23-14 margin. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would help reduce prison and jail overcrowding in California and potentially even provide savings to the financially-strapped courts because felony charges require setting a preliminary hearing, … [Read more...]

Give Prosecutors Discretion in Drug Cases – Support SB 649 TODAY

Justice Not Jails urges everyone concerned with mass incarceration to take action today in support of rational reform related to drug policy. MONDAY, MARCH 25, is the deadline for sending letters of support for an important piece of legislation. Everybody knows that a felony conviction brings much graver consequences than a misdemeanor. When people with felony drug convictions eventually finally get out of prison, they face harsh barriers to employment and to other rights and benefits that … [Read more...]

Our Priorities in Sacramento

Justice Not Jails participates in the broader criminal justice reform coalition that fights for the changes we need in Sacramento. There are currently a couple dozen criminal justice-related bills in the legislative hopper, some of which are regressive and need to be defeated. The good ones we identify here all align with JNJ's priorities on juvenile justice, drug policy, and re-entry support. Assembly Bills AB 218 (Dickinson) - removes the "box" that ex-offenders currently need to check on … [Read more...]

Graduate Them, Don’t Incarcerate Them!

Graduate Them, Don't Incarcerate Them! The Movement to Keep Young People in School The problem isn't a secret: California schools suspend more students than they graduate, tracking them to jail instead of to success. But Ramiro Rubalcaba was surprised when he found himself being part of the solution. Rubalcaba told his story at a forum on school discipline held in Los Angeles on September 10, sponsored by the California Endowment, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom … [Read more...]

Faith Communities Must Be Part of Justice Solutions

Serious justice reform has begun in Pennsylvania. Citing similar measures in Texas and Hawaii, the state’s lawmakers recently passed SB 100, which is aimed at reducing the exorbitant costs of incarceration while maintaining public safety. The bill addresses in particular issues of prison overcrowding and prison health care, and gives special attention to diverting low-level addicted offenders into local treatment programs, and to community-based alternative sentencing measures. But an … [Read more...]

States take sizeable steps in 2012 to end overincarceration

As states begin to realize that they can reduce their prison populations safely, the pace of reform has begun to pick up a bit this year. State legislative sessions are coming to a close, which makes it a good time to review the actions lawmakers have taken to reduce their unsustainable prison populations in 2012. Here are the some of the legislative reform highlights: Alabama Faced with a system of overcrowded prisons and fearing the same sort of court order that forced California to reform … [Read more...]