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Assembly Public Safety Committee Approves Bill Eliminating a Key Barrier for Crime Survivors to Access Help

June 25, 2019

SB 375 Would Make California a National Leader By Extending Time Limit for Survivors to Apply for Victim Compensation Support Three Times Longer, One of the Longest in Nation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2019

CONTACT:
Melanie Mendoza
(818) 217-6078

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday approved a bill that would extend the time limit by which crime victims must apply for key support from the California Victim Compensation Board. The bill, SB 375, authored by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) and sponsored by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, would allow people to apply for victim compensation up to 10 years after becoming the victim of a crime. Current law requires crime victims to file an application within three years of the crime occurring to be eligible to receive victim compensation in most cases. The change would give California one of longest time limits of any state in the nation for crime survivors to apply for help.

The three-year deadline has left many victims of crime without access to the victim compensation program which can provide them with the resources they need to attain recovery. Many crime victims are unaware of the victim compensation program, or are not ready to apply in the aftermath of an incident, especially when they are dealing with the trauma of it years afterwards.

According to a 2013 survey of California crime victims, nearly one in three victims reported that they were unaware of but interested in victim compensation. A recent April 2019 report on the experiences of crime survivors in California found that less than one in five victims received the various types of help that the victim compensation program can support, like financial help with medical costs, counseling and mental health support, and emergency housing.

Tinisch Hollins, California state director, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice: “The health and safety of our communities depend on crime victims getting the support they need to recover, yet too many barriers to that support remain in place. SB 375 prioritizes the needs of crime survivors by making the system more responsive and trauma-informed, recognizing that people often aren’t ready to apply for victim compensation in the immediate aftermath of an incident. Crime victims shouldn’t be prevented from accessing recovery services because they are struggling with trauma. Ensuring that there are pathways to healing and recovery for those most harmed is key to stopping the cycle of unaddressed trauma that undermines safety and perpetuates harm.”

Criminal Justice Bills Clear A Major “Suspense File” Hurdle To Land On The House Floors

May 19, 2019

“There are 43,0387 people in the [Post Community Release Supervision] PRCS population in our state which continues to remain steady despite a portion scoring low or moderate on their risk assessments,” Californians for Safety and Justice says. “Unfortunately, too often in current practice, the decision to discharge a parolee is based on completing the full parole term dictated by the offense, not on evidence-based practices and an objective measure of the public safety risk the individual represents.”

Gov. Newsom’s Revised Budget Reflects Unprecedented Commitment to Expanding Access to Services for Survivors of Crime

May 13, 2019

Investments in Trauma Screening for Children, Restorative Justice Part of Comprehensive Approach to Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 9, 2019

CONTACT:

Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261 1398;  will@safeandjust.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to meeting the needs of survivors of crime by prioritizing investments in childhood trauma screening and restorative justice in the revised state budget he submitted to the legislature Thursday.

Newsom’s revised budget also seeks to eliminate the various barriers that serve to block access to victims’ compensation and deter survivors of crime from seeking the services they need and are entitled to under the law.

Included in the governor’s budget is more than $100 million for improving trauma screening for children and the training of health care providers charged with performing the screenings and providing treatment for children experiencing trauma stemming from adverse childhood experiences. The budget also contains an increased allocation for restorative justice programs and increased incentives for local jurisdictions to include restorative justice among the options for case resolution as an alternative to traditional prosecution for victims interested in pursuing such an option. Additionally, the revised budget contains a commitment that the Newsom administration will develop during the next year a plan for consolidating within a new state department under the Government Operations Agency the victims programs currently housed within the Office of Emergency Services and the Victims’ Compensation Board.

Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice: “Gov. Newsom is to be commended for submitting a revised budget that takes seriously the needs of crime survivors and demonstrates a commitment to pursuing a smart safety strategy that is responsive to survivor voices. Creating safe and healthy communities requires ensuring survivors of crime access the services they need to recover and working together to stop the cycle of crime. We look forward to continuing to work with the governor on shared safety priorities.”

Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice: “We applaud Gov. Newsom for standing firmly with survivors of crime and for listening when they demand approaches to community safety that include healing and prevention and not just incarceration. Since its founding, Californians for Safety and Justice has pioneered an effort to ensure the voices of survivors are at the center of policymaking by creating the largest network of crime survivors in the state. We are deeply grateful for the governor’s partnership in this transformative work for safety and justice in California.”

 

Long parole terms waste taxpayer money. Here’s one way to fix a broken system

April 30, 2019

That’s why I’m supporting Assembly Bill 1182, a bill authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice. It would align the state parole and probation systems with evidence-based practices by allowing some people to become eligible for release from supervision after successfully completing the first six months. It would also mandate that a person’s risk of committing another crime to be the primary factor in determining whether a person should be released.

An algorithm wipes clean the criminal pasts of thousands

April 29, 2019

“The only downside is that we’re not moving quickly enough,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, an advocacy group campaigning for justice reform.

“We live in a technological age. This is the way that we’re supposed to be doing business. And if it streamlines government, saves taxpayers money, and makes us safe… it’s a no brainer.”

Mr Jordan says that clearing records is a vital part of rehabilitation, a move that reduces the risk of so-called generational poverty. There are said to be 40,000 “collateral consequences” for those living with a criminal record – more than half relate to employment.

“It affects large swathes of our community,” Mr Jordan said. “People from communities of colour, and urban communities around this country, are riddled with folks with convictions.”

California bill seeks to automatically seal 8M criminal records

April 19, 2019

“These things that everyday individuals are able to do, people with convictions aren’t able to do for the rest of their life, and they pose no safety risk whatsoever,” Jay Jordan, project director for Californians for Safety, said.

L.A. Program Dedicated to Counseling Victims of Violence Offers Solace, Understanding to Survivors

April 18, 2019

But the state has made some gains in serving crime victims, according to Robert Rooks, vice president of Californians for Safety and Justice. The organization includes the national Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice network and helps victims influence criminal justice policy. Rooks pointed out that California has expanded its trauma recovery centers for violent crime survivors and that both the Victim of Crime Act and Proposition 47 have routed millions of additional funds to victims as well.

“Crime victims want investments in their communities to stop the cycle of crime,” he said. Major barrier survivors face, Rooks added, is that accessing services too often requires them to interact with law enforcement.

Hundreds of Crime Survivors to Call for New Safety Agenda at Rallies Across California to Honor National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

April 13, 2019

“More than anything else, survivors of crime want to prevent anyone else from having to join our ranks,” said Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Californians for Safety and Justice. “What survivors across this state are calling for is for health, wellbeing and rehabilitation to be at the center of our approach to public safety, not just incarceration.”

What California Crime Victims Want From The Criminal Justice System

April 12, 2019

The majority of California’s victims of crime support criminal justice reforms, including shorter sentences, and increased spending on prevention and rehabilitation services in the community, according to a survey commissioned by Californians for Safety and Justice.

Crime Survivors Want More Support and Criminal Justice Reforms, Report Finds

April 11, 2019

A majority of crime victims in California want more support services for themselves and increased investment in rehabilitation programs for offenders, a report released this week concludes. Commissioned by Californians for Safety and Justice, a criminal justice reform advocacy group and crime survivors network, the report is based on surveys of close to 1,000 crime victims from across the state, organizers said. The group released the results to coincide with a gathering of hundreds of crime survivors at the state capitol this week as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Californians for Safety and Justice Announces Appointment of New Executive Director

April 4, 2019

Long-time justice reform advocate Jay Jordan promoted to organization’s expanding leadership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 4, 2019

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; will@safeandjust.org

OAKLAND, CA – Californians for Safety and Justice, the state’s leading criminal justice reform organization, announced today an expansion of leadership, naming Jay Jordan as its new Executive Director.

Jordan, 34, succeeds Lenore Anderson, Californians for Safety and Justice’s founding Executive Director, who will remain as the organization’s President. Robert Rooks, previously the Associate Director of Californians for Safety and Justice will assume the role of Vice President.

“We are thrilled to promote Jay into this key leadership position for our growing organization,” said Lenore Anderson, President of Californians for Safety and Justice and Alliance for Safety and Justice. “Jay is a remarkable leader with an extensive track record of success. We look forward to his leadership continuing to help California create the safe and healthy communities we all desire and deserve.”    

Jordan is an accomplished leader, who has worked at the intersection of community development, organizing, and social justice. He has received over 30 awards for his work in local communities, partnering with government leaders and organizations to prevent violence and support youth. For the past three years, he has served as the director of Californians for Safety and Justice’s Second Chances Project and Time Done campaign. He launched the organization’s Time Done campaign to remove the legal barriers people living with a past conviction face long after completing the terms of their conviction.  

“Jay Jordan is a galvanizing force and there is no one better to lead Californians for Safety and Justice into its next chapter,” said Robert Rooks, Vice President of Californians for Safety and Justice and Alliance for Safety and Justice. “He is a leader and strategist with an energy to inspire and motivate that is unparalleled.”

Prior to joining the Californians for Safety and Justice staff, Jordan worked at LA Voice PICO, where he was instrumental in recruiting and training churches in the South Los Angeles area. He also co-founded Faith in Action, a group of crime survivors in the Westmont area of Los Angeles working to transform their community by employing an asset-based community development strategy.

A native of Stockton, California, Jordan is the son of a pastor from the South and an engineer from Watts and is the youngest child in a family of eight. He created his own non-profit that focused on teen leadership and civic engagement, which drew upon his own experiences. 10 months after his 18th birthday, Jordan was convicted and sent to state prison where he served eight years. That experience resulted in a lifetime commitment to dedicate his life to community restoration upon release.

After his release, he immediately met with Police Chief Eric Jones, now-Mayor Michael Tubbs, and late community activist Willie Douglas. This led to him doing youth mentorship and community clean-up programs in his hometown of Stockton. Jordan launched an innovative youth organizing program, The First50, with the help of local public officials, community members and law enforcement. In its first 18 months, the program saw a 100 percent high school graduation rate and college enrollment.

Jordan’s 30 recognitions for his community work include honors as the American Red Cross’ Hero of the Year in 2014, recipient of the Literacy Foundations’ Innovative Library Concept Award, and Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Youth Program.

“It is an incredible honor to be asked to lead an organization that has helped change lives and make a difference in communities across the state,” said Jordan. “I am humbled to take on this responsibility and follow such extraordinary leaders. I made a decision nearly 15 years ago to devote my life to underserved communities most impacted by crime, poverty and incarceration. I look forward to building upon the successes Californians for Safety and Justice has achieved in advancing a proactive vision for safe and healthy communities.”

The appointment is part of the organization developing and growing its leadership, particularly as it expands. Anderson and Rooks launched a national organization, Alliance for Safety and Justice, in 2016 to work on justice reform in other states. It replicates the pioneering work that was successful in California and is responsive to state differences. Anderson and Rooks are president and vice president, respectively, of Alliance for Safety and Justice and lead its expanding body of work. The innovative work to advance safety and justice in California will continue under Jordan’s day-to-day leadership and their strategic guidance.

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Bill Automating Record Reduction Under Proposition 47 Approved by Assembly Public Safety Committee

March 26, 2019

Cost, Bureaucratic Hurdles Preventing Over One Million Californians From Reducing Low-Level Felonies to Misdemeanors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 26, 2019

CONTACT: Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; will@safeandjust.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday passed a bill that would help achieve the will of California voters by automatically changing old low-level felony convictions that were reclassified to misdemeanors under voter-approved Proposition 47.

Assembly Bill 972, authored by Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice, would utilize technology to help the California Department of Justice automatically identify each conviction eligible for reduction on the records of people in the state. Once confirmed as eligible, those convictions would then be automatically changed, enabling more than a million Californians to get out from underneath the nearly 5,000 legal restrictions the state places on people with a past conviction. These restrictions block people from jobs, housing, educational opportunities and other key path to regaining stability.

Jay Jordan, director the #TimeDone campaign for Californians for Safety and Justice: “We applaud Assemblyman Bonta and his colleagues for advancing this important reform for California. We need to break down the barriers to stability facing more than eight million Californians – an astounding one in five state residents – who are living with an old conviction or record. The majority of these legal restrictions serve no safety purpose and destabilize families and communities, actually undermining public safety and the economy. People who are eligible for a record change under Prop. 47 should not have to navigate a costly and wasteful maze of bureaucratic hurdles to get relief. When we allow people to earn redemption, we invest in making our state healthier and safer for all.”

Currently, if someone wants to a record change under Proposition 47, they must follow an arduous, bureaucratic application process that requires appearing in court in the jurisdiction where the conviction was received, and oftentimes necessitates hiring a lawyer. AB 972 would ease this bureaucratic maze for California residents.

Approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2014, Proposition 47 changed the penalty for petty theft and simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, a move that has already saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars through reduced incarceration that are being reinvested in community-based crime prevention programs. Proposition 47 also applied the change retroactively, meaning people with felony convictions for petty theft or possession of drugs for personal use could have those convictions reduced to misdemeanors.

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Rap Sheets Haunt Former Inmates. California May Change That.

March 11, 2019

“There are so many of us who just want to be better, but are constantly turned down, turned away,” said Mr. Jordan, who is now project director for Time Done, a program that is part of Californians for Safety and Justice, a nonprofit that advocates to make the criminal justice system less punitive.

Editorial: Automatic criminal record clearance is an idea whose time has come

March 9, 2019

Those barriers also cost the rest of us dearly. According to Californians for Safety and Justice, an Oakland-based criminal justice reform nonprofit, in 2014 the U.S. lost $87 billion’s worth of GDP because of the impact of conviction restrictions on our workforce.

A new push in California to automatically clear old arrest and conviction records

March 7, 2019

Jay Jordan was one of those who struggled to get back on his feet despite having a plan for his life on the outside. Jordan, 33, served time in jail and prison on auto theft and robbery convictions before he was released in 2012.

“We all do this. Everyone around me with a date [of release] was doing the same thing. We create plans, very detailed plans,” Jordan said with a laugh. “I wanted to sell used cars for residual income, sell vending machines. I had it down even to the taxes I was going to have to pay.”

But Jordan said he didn’t qualify for any of those professions because of his record. He ended up working at a temporary employment agency alongside other former inmates, he said, where he injured himself and was then fired after missing work.

“Here I was, trying to do the right thing, trying to do a job that gives me a livable wage, and I get fired for getting hurt,” Jordan said. “I didn’t have any workers’ rights, and I realized very rapidly that something was inherently wrong with this system.”

He ended up joining a nonprofit organization and now pushes for criminal justice reform as the director of the Second Chance project with Californians for Safety and Justice.

Gov. Gavin Newsom uses the power of appointments to shape government in his image

February 27, 2019

Lenore Anderson, executive director of the Californians for Safety and Justice, wants to see Newsom appoint members to the Board of Parole Hearings who have expertise in mental health, drug treatment and helping inmates reenter society.

“We used to be a state with mandatory sentences and warehouse prisons, where punishment was the only focus,” Anderson said. “We’re in an era of change. The public wants rehabilitation. They want to know that people are being prepared for release.”

Are California’s criminal justice reforms actually working?

February 20, 2019

One of those people is Marisa Arrona with Californians for Safety and Justice – a group that helped co-author Prop. 47.

Arrona says that she doesn’t agree with the notion that laws like Prop. 47 have led to a spike in crime.

“For Prop. 47, specifically, there was a study that came out of UC Irvine in the last couple of years that showed there was no causation between Prop. 47 and any spikes in crime,” Arrona said.

Scrubbing The Past To Give Those With A Criminal Record A Second Chance

February 19, 2019

Others say Prop. 47, while a good start, is inadequate. Jay Jordan of Los Angeles served seven years in prison for robbery. He’s been out now for nearly eight years and says he still faces daunting obstacles to full re-entry into society.

“You know, I tried to adopt and was turned down. Tried to volunteer at school and was turned down. Tried sell insurance, was turned down. Tried to sell used cars was turned down. So you know, every single step of the way when I try to better myself and, you know, be able to take care of myself for my family, there are these massive barriers,” Jordan says. “And I’m not alone.”

Jordan now works for a nonprofit that advocates for rights of the formerly incarcerated. In their work, Jordan and others are asking the basic question – how long should these convictions be on somebody’s record if they’ve done their time and are working to become good citizens?

Despite millions more in funds, quality of prison rehab programs questionable: Audit

February 19, 2019

Lenore Anderson, who heads the prison reform advocacy group Californians for Safety and Justice, said the auditor’s findings point to a need to invest more money and effort in rehabilitation programs, not less.

A deep dive into the state’s audit on prison reform and recidivism

February 11, 2019

Lenore Anderson, executive director for Californians for Safety and Justice, an organization that advocates for criminal justice reform based in San Francisco; attorney who was a coauthor and campaign chair of Proposition 47 that was passed in 2014