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California State Director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice to be Honored with Peace Over Violence Humanitarian Award

October 30, 2020

Tinisch Hollins Leads California’s Largest Statewide Network of Survivors of Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

October 30, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected]    

Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, will be honored tonight as a “brave space builder in our community” by Peace Over Violence, one of California’s leading advocacy organizations for victims of sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. 

Hollins will be presented with a special Humanitarian Award, along with actor Leah Aldridge and activist and founder of Futures Without Violence Ester Soler, during the annual Evening Over Violence event, Peace Over Violence’s largest yearly fundraiser. 

“I am deeply honored by this award, and by Peace Over Violence’s partnership and shared commitment to allowing the voices of survivors to be heard as we chart new pathways to healing and wholeness,” said Hollins. “For too long, the experiences of too many survivors of crime, especially those from communities that experience the most harm but receive the least help, have been ignored, and their needs have gone unmet. But a new and growing movement of survivors is beginning to change that reality. Justice must be coupled with access to healing and restoration to prevent harm from happening again and we look forward to continuing to walk with Peace Over Violence in this work.”

With more than 12,000 members statewide, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is the largest network of survivors of crime in California. 

The event, which celebrates and honors individuals and our community, while also raising critical funds to support Peace Over Violence’s programs, has been reimagined this year as a three night virtual series that will take place tonight, Nov. 12 when Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis will Be honored, and Nov. 19, when Kimberlé Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum will be honored. 

#ProgressNotPrisons Launches High Six-Figure Statewide Ad Campaign Exposing High Costs of Prison Spending across California

October 26, 2020

Billboards outside of nearly every state prison and throughout communities across state, along with food trucks, mobile billboards, and digital video ads, call attention to need for community investments as state struggles with COVID-19, over-incarceration, homelessness, more

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

October 21, 2020

CONTACT: Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected]

OAKLAND, Calif. – Today, Californians for Safety and Justice, the lead organizing group of the #ProgressNotPrisons campaign, announced a major bilingual advertising effort to help educate Californians about the effect of excessive prison spending on their communities and encourage them to vote in the 2020 election.

Through billboards, digital advertising, mobile billboards and food trucks, the ad campaign will highlight the $100 billion California spent on prisons in the last 10 years and $50 billion it spends each year on its criminal justice system, while simultaneously denying communities much-needed investment in schools, affordable housing, health care, and more.

The billboards appear outside of nearly all of the state’s prisons, as well as in high-traffic areas of Bakersfield, Fresno, Riverside, Stockton, San Bernardino and San Jose. The billboards seek to call attention to the need for investment in critical community resources, rather than in prisons – something California voters overwhelmingly support. The ad campaign seeks to raise awareness and generate conversation among the public and government officials about how to solve the state’s greatest challenges. 

The billboard design is available here

The digital video advertisement is available here (and in Spanish here).

“The staggering $100 billion California spent on prisons since 2010 has robbed communities of the investments they need to be healthy and safe – the types of investments that can prevent crime in the first place,” said Jay Jordan, Executive Director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “We cannot let extreme prison spending continue to eclipse our investments in schools, jobs, housing, healthcare, and other solutions vital to the progress of our communities.”

Californians for Safety and Justice Applauds Gov. Gavin Newsom for Being Champion of Criminal Justice Reforms with Broad Support across State

October 1, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 1, 2020

CONTACT: 

Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected] 

OAKLAND, Calif. – Californians for Safety and Justice on Thursday expressed appreciation to Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing into law and including in the state budget adopted by the Legislature earlier this year a host of new policies that move the state toward a more effective safety agenda. The policies reflect best practices that have support from Californians across the state. Together, the efforts will help to reform broken criminal justice system policies by reducing over-incarceration and prioritizing rehabilitation and reentry, while ensuring crime victims can access support to recovery.  

Among the bills that Newsom signed in recent days include:

  • A.B. 2992 (Weber) would extend unpaid employment leave protections to all survivors of violent crime and to all immediate family members of homicide victims. The bill would also expand acceptable forms of documentation to verify that a crime or abuse occurred so survivors of crime can qualify for victim compensation
  • S.B. 1190 (Durazo) would enable all victims of violent crime to break a lease and relocate if necessary within the first six months after a crime occurred.
  • A.B. 1950 (Kamlager) would put reasonable and evidence-based limits on probation terms in California, save hundreds of millions of dollars every year by reducing the number of people on probation who are sent back to prison for technical violations and reduce the caseloads of probation officers so they can more effectively do their jobs
  • A.B. 3234 (Ting) would create a court-initiated misdemeanor diversion program and lower the minimum age limitation for elderly parole to 50 for those who have served at least 20 years

Additionally, the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget that Newsom signed into law earlier this year included: 

  • A plan to close two state owned and operated prisons by 2023 – Newsom announced the planned closure of the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, Calif. last week
  • Significant reforms to the state’s parole system that will make it more focused on ensuring people on parole successfully reintegrate back into the community with a savings to the General Fund 
  • An investment in the state’s victim compensation fund that will ensure it remains solvent and able to continue operating at current levels.
  • Funds for automatic record relief enacted by AB 1076, co-sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice last year
  • The removal of barriers to college opportunities for Californians living with past criminal convictions 

The following can be attributed to Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice:

“Gov. Newsom has taken significant steps toward ensuring that justice system reforms are enacted that align with the views of Californians from across the state and all walks of life. The gains that have been made in recent years prove that justice reforms can reduce over-incarceration and dangerous prison overcrowding, while making communities safer as crime rates remain at historically low levels. When we reduce the wasteful spending, investments can be directed to strengthening the safety and stability of local communities. There is still much work to be done, but Gov. Newsom’s commitment to increasing the safety, health and well-being of our communities sets us on the right path.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Bill Expanding Employment Protections for All Survivors of Violent Crime

September 29, 2020

A.B. 2992 Makes All Survivors of Violence Eligible to Take Time Off Work Without Fearing Loss of Employment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

September 28, 2020

CONTACT:

Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected] 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed into law a bill allowing all victims of violent crime to take time off work after a crime has occurred without having to worry about being penalized or fired.

Authored by Asm. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and sponsored by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, the largest network of survivors of crime in California and the nation, A.B. 2992 makes survivors of violent crime, as well as the immediate family members of homicide victims, eligible for unpaid employment leave protections. The bill also expands acceptable forms of documentation to verify that a crime occurred. 

California law had previously protected only victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking from being fired or discriminated against for taking time off work to secure a restraining order or protective order, access victims services or mental healthcare or take actions to ensure their safety. These important protections have now been expanded to all survivors of violent crime.  

A survey of crime survivors commissioned by Californians for Safety and Justice found that one in four California survivors missed work following the crime and two in three reported experiencing anxiety, stress or difficulty with sleeping, relationships or work. Half of survivors said it took more than six months after being victimized to recover. 

Studies also show that survivors of violent crime, and especially low income survivors, overwhelmingly need support meeting basic needs following a crime, including securing safe housing and maintaining stable employment. And a recent study by the Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, found that the majority of parents of homicide victims report difficulty returning to work and more than one in four family members had quit their jobs or were fired for missing work within two years of their loved one’s murder.

“All survivors of violent crime and their loved ones must be allowed to take time off work to secure their safety and access victim services to recover following a crime,” said Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “It was never okay for a survivor of violent crime to have to choose between their safety and financial security, especially during this time of pandemic and increased financial instability. Survivors of violent crime will too often remain in unsafe circumstances and not get the help they need because they are afraid of losing their job and income, exacerbating cycles of harm and trauma. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Gov. Newsom for signing this bill and ensuring victims of violent crime can do what they need to do for their safety and well-being.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Bill Enabling Survivors of Violent Crime to Find Safe Housing

September 28, 2020

S.B. 1190 Allows Victims of Violent Crime to Terminate a Lease After a Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

September 28, 2020

CONTACT:

Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected] 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed into law a bill ensuring all survivors of violent crime and their families are able to seek safe housing in the aftermath of a crime. 

S.B. 1190, authored by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) and sponsored by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, the largest network of crime survivors in California and the nation, allows victims of violent crimes and their families and household members to terminate a lease without penalty within the first six months of a crime occurring. The bill also prohibits landlords from discriminating against potential tenants who previously had legally broken a lease. 

Previously, only survivors of domestic violence, stalking, elder abuse or human trafficking were allowed to terminate a lease without penalty if they needed to relocate following a crime. But survivors of other types of violent crime – including gun violence, armed home invasion or co-victims of homicide – did not have those same protections if they needed to relocate. 

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused heightened financial insecurity, it is especially imperative that crime survivors have avenues for relocating without penalties if their safety depends on it. More than 40 percent of respondents to a 2019 statewide poll of crime survivors in California commissioned by Californians for Safety and Justice said they would have wanted emergency or temporary housing following the crime. Only six percent said they received it. Staying in the home may increase the risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and expose survivors to further violence. 

“No one who has been the victim of a violent crime should ever be forced to make an untenable choice between their physical or emotional safety and the long term financial consequences of breaking a lease, said Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “The security of a stable and safe home is a fundamental human need that becomes even more important following a violent crime. Penalizing survivors of violent crime whose safety requires immediate relocation only exacerbates cycles of crime and re-victimization. We are deeply grateful that Gov. Newsom has signed this bill and enshrined into law a more comprehensive approach to public safety that will help make sure all survivors of violent crime are able to seek safe places to live.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom Announces First Steps Toward Closing State Prison in Tracy

September 25, 2020

Shuttering of Deuel Vocational Institution a Milestone in California’s Ongoing Effort to Safely Reduce Incarceration, Prioritize Investments in Prevention, Community Safety and Well-Being

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

September 25, 2020

CONTACT:

Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy will be the first state owned and operated prison to be closed as part of a plan outlined in the state budget signed into law in June to shutter two prisons by 2023.  

The budget proposes closing one facility beginning in 2021-2022 and a second facility beginning in 2022-2023, while maintaining Newsom’s plan to close all private, in-state contract correctional facilities for male prisoners in 2020-2021.

The following can be attributed to Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice:

“Californians from all walks of life – rural, urban, conservative and liberal – all agree: spending billions upon billions of dollars on prisons is wasteful. It harms safety and takes money away from prevention, schools and economic development. Many decades of out-of-control spending on prisons has been undermining public safety by exacerbating recidivism and the destabilization of communities while failing to stop cycles of crime. We congratulate Gov. Newsom for making good on his commitment to rebalance our safety budget in a way that aligns with what all Californians want.”

Survivors of Crime Oppose Proposition 20, Request Mayors of California’s Largest Cities Join Them

September 10, 2020

November Ballot Initiative, Backed by State’s Largest Law Enforcement Associations, Would Increase Spending on Prisons, Widen Disparities and Reduce Investments in Communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
September 10, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice,
(909) 261-1398; [email protected]  

OAKLAND, Calif. – Several of the largest crime victims’ organizations in California sent a letter on Thursday to the mayors of the state’s 13 largest cities, asking that they stand with crime survivors in opposition to Proposition 20. The letter coincided with a press conference held by crime victims and leading district attorneys from across the state in opposition to the November statewide ballot initiative that would increase costly and disparate incarceration while slashing investments in services to help survivors

The letter was signed by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, California’s largest network of survivors of crime, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and Ruby’s Place, which provides survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse crisis services, shelter, counseling and more.  

Sent to the mayors of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana and Stockton, the letter says Proposition 20 would return California to the days when it was a leader in mass incarceration and failed to prevent crime from occurring in the first place or better met the needs of crime survivors. 

Already, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf have responded by saying they oppose Proposition 20.

Read the full letter here.

“As crime survivors and those who work on their behalf every day, we support policies to prevent crime, reduce recidivism and address barriers that prevent healing,” the letter reads. “More than anything, most victims want assurances that what happened to them will never happen again – to them or anyone else.” 

Proposition 20 would undercut or eliminate entirely the hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings already realized from recent justice system reforms that have safely reduced incarceration in California. That money has been reinvested in local communities and, among other things, funded the creation of more than a dozen trauma recovery centers up and down the state that provide survivors the wrap around services they need to heal.  

An analysis released this week shows that statewide crime rates are lower today than at any other point in recorded history, yet only one in five people who survived a crime in the past 10 years received the help they needed to recover from the trauma of the crime. 

In the letter, crime victims indicate that evidence shows investments in community health, not incarceration, more effectively prevent crime. The letter also makes clear that thousands of Californians are struggling with untreated mental illness, addiction and trauma – among the most well-known drivers of crime and health vulnerabilities. 

“We believe in treatment programs and addiction services to break the cycle of crime,” the letter reads. “We believe mental health challenges should be handled…outside of traditional courts and prisons.”

Passage of Proposition 20 would result in as many as 10,000 more people being locked up every year in our state’s jails and prisons than are currently incarcerated. 

In addition to crime survivors, Proposition 20 is opposed by more than 100 leading labor, civil rights and business organizations including the California Teachers Association, Chicana Latina Foundation, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California Labor Federation, United Domestic Workers of America, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Fire Chiefs Association, United Way of California, Sierra Club, California Black Chamber of Commerce, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (CA) and the Chief Probation Officers of California, among others. 

“We cannot and must not turn back the clock,” the letter to the mayors reads. “We ask you to help us continue the progress we have made together in California by standing with us opposition to Proposition 20 and a return to the failed policies of the past.” 

A recording of today’s press conference announcing the letter and featuring survivors and some of the state’s leading district attorneys and other law enforcement officials is available here.

$30 Million Public-Private Partnership Launched to Support Returning Citizens, as California Urgently Reduces Prison Populations to Curb Impact of COVID-19

August 27, 2020

Philanthropies and nonprofits partner with the State of California and Governor Gavin Newsom to provide much-needed reentry services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 27, 2020 CONTACT: Robin Rettmer, Amity Foundation, [email protected] SACRAMENTO, Calif. –

Today, as COVID-19 spreads through prisons and jails, philanthropies and nonprofits joined the State of California and Governor Gavin Newsom to announce “Returning Home Well”, a new public-private partnership that provides essential services — like housing, health care, treatment, transportation, direct assistance, and employment support — for Californians returning home from prison after July 1, 2020.

These are individuals that have either met their natural release date or are being released on an expedited timeline due to COVID-19. The State announced an initial commitment of $15 million, which will be matched by philanthropic contributions for a total goal of $30 million.

“In these unprecedented times, we are committed to providing essential services to those who are returning home to their families and communities,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “It is imperative to our public health and public safety, and it is a testament to the generosity of spirit that runs so deep across our state, that so many of our California-based philanthropies and nonprofit partners are stepping up to help provide these critical supports.”

“We applaud Governor Newsom for investing in this long-needed infrastructure to help keep people and families safe during and after the pandemic,” said Jay Jordan, Executive Director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “Supporting reentry services for people coming home is a well-researched and proven model for reducing recidivism and helping people achieve success in their journey home.”

In recent months, COVID-19 cases have risen dramatically among California’s prison population. As in other confined spaces, risk of infection — among those incarcerated and prison staff — is extremely high. In response, the State of California has taken important, life-saving steps to expedite the release of over 5,000 individuals who were already on track to go home, all with less than a year left to serve.

However, those returning are often left without essential services that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and its economic fallout. This new public-private partnership between several state departments, philanthropy, and frontline reentry services providers ensures that people have the support they need for a safe, healthy, and successful reintegration. “We’re proud to support a public-private partnership that asserts the need for justice reform with a racial equity lens”, said Dr. Robert K. Ross, MD, President and CEO of The California Endowment.

“We must strive for a justice system that focuses on health care and support services as the first options, instead of on the approach of incarceration which has failed so many. Our California communities need and deserve to thrive in a healthy environment free from trauma.” “People impacted by the justice system are profoundly and disproportionately at risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19-related illnesses,” added Dr. Priscilla Chan, Co-Founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

“We not only need to reduce our prison population, we also need to provide significant and ongoing support to returning citizens so they, their families, and communities can stay safe and thrive over the long-term.” Recently, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation projected that a large percentage of individuals set to come home will have the need for housing assistance and coordination of post-release services.

Rates of homelessness among regular releases have risen from a low of 13 percent last August to 15.5 percent in August 2020, and formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.

This makes the need for reentry support in the pandemic environment even more critical. “CDCR understands how vitally important it is to expand reentry programs for the incarcerated population returning to their communities,” CDCR Director of Division of Rehabilitative Programs Brant Choate said. “Ensuring formerly incarcerated persons have the housing and tools they need to focus on living a better life when they get out are key to successful community transition, good public safety, and ultimately help save taxpayer dollars.”

Across California, hundreds of community-based organizations — like A New Way of Life, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Center for Employment Opportunities, Homeboy Industries, HealthRIGHT 360, WestCare California, and more — are working tirelessly to provide assistance across California. With a $15 million commitment from Governor Newsom and funding from private philanthropy, resources are going to organizations providing transportation home from prison, quarantine housing, emergency supportive housing, residential treatment, access to health care, employment services, direct assistance, and more.

Amity Foundation is serving as the hub for housing and services delivered by a network of frontline organizations across the state. “Over the last four months, we have seen the impact that safe housing, job training, and other reentry services can have for returning citizens,” said Sam Schaeffer, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Employment Opportunities. “Despite the retracting economy, we’ve seen people thrive when given real, meaningful support.

That’s what this partnership is about — giving people a strong foundation to stand on coming out of one of the most challenging periods of their lives.” Over $26 million of the $30 million goal has been committed and services are already being provided to returning citizens.

Foundations and individual donors aligning funding for this effort include the Meadow Fund, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Rosenberg Foundation, The California Endowment, Heising-Simons Foundation, Future Justice Fund, Art for Justice Fund, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The California Wellness Foundation, Ford Foundation, Agnes Gund, and Kaitlyn & Mike Krieger.

“This moment requires bold leadership, and we thank Governor Newsom and our partners in philanthropy for joining together to support returning citizens in reclaiming their lives,” said Tim Silard, President of the Rosenberg Foundation.

“Reentry supports are proven and critical to helping people reintegrate back into our communities.” “Expediting release is necessary, but so is ensuring that services are available in a way that supports those returning home to achieve successful outcomes,” said Doug Bond, CEO of the Amity Foundation. “Supporting this type of service is an essential piece of a much broader, long-term public health and social progress solution.”

Statewide Campaign Launches to Educate Californians on How $100 Billion in Excessive Prison Spending Locks State Out of Critical Investments, Encourage Voter Registration & Participation

August 14, 2020

California Spends Astounding $50 Billion Every Year on Criminal Justice System; $100 Billion Spent on Prisons Since 2010 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 13, 2020

CONTACT: 

Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected] 

OAKLAND, Calif. – A new campaign focused on solutions to California’s economic, health and safety challenges launched a statewide public education effort about California’s extreme annual spending of $50 billion on its criminal justice system. The campaign, #ProgressNotPrisons, is uniting the state’s various stakeholders to raise awareness about the lost investments caused by the state’s $100 billion in prison spending since 2010. It will contrast California spending on the criminal justice system with the need to invest in health care, jobs, schools, mental health, crime victim services and other essential programs. The campaign will elevate the need to support the important work of those in the public health, housing, labor, and education sectors to achieve progress in the state. In addition to multi-sector advocates and organizations, it will also include elected officials and the state’s largest network of crime survivors. 

The campaign is running video ads across the state and staging billboard ads on freeways in between some of the state’s prisons, while encouraging voter registration and participation.

See the video ad here: https://youtu.be/sWI7e9hy4kg 

See the billboard here: https://safeandjust.org/wp-content/uploads/PNP_Billboards.png 

The #ProgressNotPrisons campaign, organized by Californians for Safety and Justice, shows how the excessive spending on failed prisons takes away resources from health and safety solutions for communities, and encourages residents to register to vote. 

“It is tragic for our children, seniors and families that our state has spent $100 billion on prisons since 2010, taking resources away from what we need to be healthy and safe,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “Every additional billion dollars spent on prisons is one that could’ve been invested in prevention to stop the cycle of crime, health care, education, and programs that address homelessness, addiction and mental illness. Californians working on the frontlines to solve our greatest challenges are coming together to say that we can no longer afford to spend more and more billions of dollars on prisons. We need progress, not prisons, and we must engage in our civic duty by registering to vote and casting our ballots.” 

In addition to organizations from across the state, the campaign will be supported by music artists, athletes and other entertainers. Its launch is supported by Grammy-nominated recording artist, John Forté, who has been recognized for his work with multi-platinum hip-hop group, The Fugees. The campaign’s video ad features an original score and voice over from Forté.

Forte stated: “#ProgressNotPrisons is an opportunity for California to lead by example in criminal justice reform by prioritizing families, healthcare, and safety for our communities, rather than continuing to invest billions of dollars in a cruel, biased and broken prison system. It’s a fundamental choice: progress or prisons? This moment in history could not be more important.”

If California redirected just 1% of the $50 billion spent on its criminal justice system each year, the state could invest in:

  • Restoring health care coverage to more than half of the estimated 2.1 million Californians who have lost their health care during the pandemic as of mid-May
  • Providing COVID-19 treatment for 16,000 people, including hospital stays
  • Maintaining 11,000 EMTs or 4,000 nurses, at a time when 1.4 million healthcare workers throughout the country lost their jobs during the month of April alone
  • Providing shelter to nearly half of California’s estimated 108,000 unsheltered homeless residents, at a time when an estimated 5.3 million residents are at risk of eviction
  • Preserving 6,000 elementary school teachers
  • Paying for public education for 41,000 K-12 students
  • Supporting annual tuition and fees for 62,000 university students, nearly one out of every four incoming freshmen

 “We can no longer accept increased spending on prisons when our fundamental health and safety needs require more investment,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell (SD30-Los Angeles). “This excessive spending on prisons takes away from investments in our shared priorities: solving our state’s biggest challenges and prioritizing what Californians need to be healthy and safe.”

#ProgressNotPrisons will focus on weekly themes that highlight the solutions to the state’s challenges that California could invest in instead of spending more on prisons. The themes include crime victim services, schools, jobs and the economy vs. prisons, health care, mental health and addiction treatment, among others. 

“As millions of Californians face hardships from COVID-19 and, at the same time, raise their voices with a renewed call for greater racial, social and economic justice, we need to ensure that equity is at the center of our state’s spending,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). “That means California must take a fresh look at how every dollar is spent. By investing in solutions, not prisons, we can provide a better future for every Californian.”

“The State can’t keep spending so excessively on prisons – especially at a time when we simply cannot afford it,” said Asm. Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland). “Increasing prison spending is the last thing we should do when funding is at risk for schools, jobs, housing, health care and other solutions that make our neighborhoods safer.” 

“Spending billions of dollars to incarcerate a disproportionate amount of Black and Brown people is just another example of systemic racism,” said Daniel Forkkio, chief executive officer of Represent Justice. “This initiative is a reminder of the shocking amount of resources that go into California’s broken carceral system, which could be better used for community investments that support true public health and safety. Represent Justice is proud to be a part of #ProgressNotPrisons and looks forward to amplifying the untold stories of families who are impacted by the justice system and envisioning a more just future for all Californians.” 

Californians for Safety and Justice Calls Decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom to Release Thousands of People in Response to Outbreak of COVID-19 in State Prisons A Step in Right Direction

July 10, 2020

Safely Reducing Overcrowding in State Prison System a Public Health Imperative as Number of Cases, Deaths Continue to Rise, But More Action Needed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

July 10, 2020 

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice,
(909) 261-1398; [email protected]

OAKLAND, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced a plan to release 8,000 more people from the state prison system in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in prison facilities up and down the state, including the San Quentin state prison where more than 1,300 people incarcerated have contracted the virus and at least seven people have died. 

Most of the COVID-19 infections at San Quentin have been reported in the past few weeks, after a disastrous decision by corrections officials to transfer prisoners from the California Institute for Men in Chino, where a documented outbreak of COVID-19 had occurred, to San Quentin. Now, nearly half of the people incarcerated at San Quentin have contracted COVID-19.

Earlier this spring, Newsome ordered the release of 3,500 people in prison serving time for non-violent, non-serious offenses and who were within 60 days of their planned release date. The state’s prison population continues to far exceed the prison system’s design capacity, however, creating a dangerous environment that is allowing the virus to spread rapidly. 

To date, nearly 2,500 people in California prisons have tested positive for the virus, while 31 people incarcerated have died. 

The following can be attributed to Jay Jordan executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice:

“The decision today by Gov. Newsom to ramp up safe prison releases is a credit to the advocacy of people and organizations throughout the state who have demanded clear action to protect public health and safety. It’s ironic that California has a moratorium on the death penalty, yet people are being killed in prisons by way of COVID. There is a moral imperative for bolder action to reduce overcrowding in our prisons. Too many people are locked up for too long by a bloated system that spreads poor health across California communities up and down the state. California must release people who are unnecessarily incarcerated and transform our safety priorities, so the core needs of communities that allow them to be safe are met and the number of people sent to prison in the first place is reduced.”  

Survivors of Crime Celebrate Introduction of Groundbreaking Bill Eliminating Barriers to State Support for Victims of Police Brutality

July 7, 2020

AB 767 Would Be First Bill in Nation to Eliminate Barriers to Victim Compensation That Lock Too Many Survivors of Color, Police Violence Victims and Others Out of Critical Support 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
July 7, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected] 

OAKLAND, Calif. – California’s largest network of crime survivors on Tuesday lauded a first-in-the-nation proposal introduced last week by Asm. Tim Grayson (D-Martinez) that would eliminate barriers to victim compensation faced by victims of police brutality and other violent crimes. 

The bill, A.B. 767, would end California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) denials of the support to victims, based on confusing language that allows them to be blamed for their own death or injury, police reports and conclusions as the only judge of victimization, or based on an old conviction history.  

These restrictions lock many victims of color out of the needed support for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses and counseling. Victims of police violence and their families are typically excluded entirely from the program. (CalVCB) can deny applications if it finds “denial is appropriate due to…the involvement of the person whose injury or death gives rise to the application” or if it finds the survivor “failed to cooperate reasonably” with law enforcement. 

This is particularly perverse for survivors of police violence and the loved ones of people killed by police since a police report documenting the victimization is usually elusive. The very law enforcement official responsible for the injury or death can exert influence over whether a victim is denied support. These policies can also entrench racist perceptions that disregard the recognition of some victims, disproportionately harming Black survivors and other victims of color. Recent analyses of victim compensation denial data in other states have found those that apply subjective “contributory misconduct” exclusions, and conviction-based restrictions, deny Black victims and families at disproportionate rates.

The bill would also:

  •  Bar denial of a victim compensation application based solely on the contents or absence of a police report
  • Allow CalVCB to rely on documentation other than a police report to determine a crime occurred, like a report from a mental health provider
  • Bar denials for non-cooperation with law enforcement if the survivor has taken actions to support their safety and healing, like seeking medical or mental health treatment 
  • Change the definition of “crime” in compensation law to ensure eligibility for compensation is not dependent on whether there is an arrest or persecution

The following can be attributed to Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice:

“A.B. 767 takes a comprehensive approach to changing policies that have served only to lock too many survivors out of victim compensation for too long. For decades, crime survivors, and survivors of color in particular, have been leading calls to eliminate barriers and ensure survivors of all violence, including police violence, can receive compensation. In addition to leaving entire communities with no resources for addressing trauma, these policies have served to entrench racist perceptions of survivors as “deserving” or “underserving,” disproportionately denying Black survivors and other people of color access to victim services. This must end, and we are proud to stand with Asm. Grayson in this fight.” 

Additional information about the bill is available here.

As Legislature Confronts COVID Crisis in Prisons, New Report Outlines Strategies to Safely Reduce Prison Crowding with Significant Voter Support

July 1, 2020

Recent Outbreaks at San Quentin and Other Prisons Underscore Urgency to Prevent Virus Spread from Prisons and Keep Communities Safe as Report Identifies Tens of Thousands of People Who Could be Considered for Safe Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 1, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice,
(909) 261-1398; [email protected]

OAKLAND, Calif. – As the California Senate Public Safety Committee holds a hearing on COVID-19 in the state’s prisons, Californians for Safety and Justice released a new report Wednesday with voter-supported options to safely reduce the state prison population. The report identifies tens of thousands of people who could be considered for safe release to reduce crowding in prisons during a health crisis that threatens to spread COVID-19. The incarceration reduction options would also decrease wasteful prison spending in the face of a record budget deficit. It also highlights how these options are supported by wide majorities of likely voters in the state, based on a recent poll by nationally-respected public opinion research firm, David Binder Research.

The report, “How California Can Cut Prison Spending, Protect Health and Education Spending and Improve Public safety,” comes as prisons and communities across the state are experiencing new Coronavirus outbreaks, and underscores the urgency with which the state must continue to reduce prison crowding. 

“At a time when California faces an unprecedented public health crisis, massive budget deficits and popular calls to create a more racially equitable justice system, it is crucial that state policymakers take bold steps to continue to reduce the number of people inside of California’s overcrowded prisons,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “By reducing overincarceration and the prison budget, we can protect communities from COVID and provide funding for local public safety programs that better meet the health and safety needs of our communities.” 

According to the report, there are five main policy options for further reducing the prison population safely in order to cut back wasteful spending on failed prisons and address the ongoing threat the spread of COVI-19 in prisons poses to the entire state:

1.     Reduce incarceration of people who are low risk to public safety: According to a risk assessment used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 49 percent of institutional population (63,000 people) were assessed to be low risk to reoffend for a violent crime.

2.     Resentence individuals in prison who are elderly and/or medically frail: 19,000 people in prison (about 15 percent of the prison population) are aged 55 and over. Research shows that the likelihood of people in this age group committing a new crime can be as low as 2 percent. 

3.     Revise the Three Strikes law to reduce extreme sentencing: There are 33,000 people sentenced to prison under the Three Strikes Law, 18,000 of whom were sentenced for a nonviolent offense. 

4.     Require wider use of alternatives to incarceration and strengthen local public safety systems: The latest data shows that 37,000 people sentenced to prison have a mental health challenge. 

5.     Create a task force required to consider multiple options for reducing prison spending

Despite a number of reforms enacted over the past decade in California that have significantly reduced the state’s prison population, there are still more people in California’s prisons than they were designed to safely hold and spending on prisons has continued to increase. Prison spending is expected to hit an all time high of $13 billion this year. 

The statewide polling, completed in May 2020, shows there is wide support among California voters for continuing to reduce incarceration and prioritizing investments in schools, public health and other key services for communities. According to the polling, voters support releasing people deemed a low risk to public safety by a two-to-one margin, nearly eight in 10 voters support the release of people in prison who are elderly or medically frail, voters support further revisions to the Three Strikes law by a three-to-one margin, and more than seven in 10 voters support the increased use of alternatives to incarceration, especially if the savings from reduced incarceration were to be reallocated to schools, hospitals and other vital programs.   

“It’s clear voters believe a thoughtful reallocation of public safety dollars to better prioritize prevention and healing should be a cornerstone of building safe communities and stopping the cycles of crime,” said Jordan. “By continuing to reduce the state’s prison population we not only will be responding to the urgent crisis of COVID-19 but we will also begin to sustain the resources needed to build a strong and inclusive safety framework for all Californians.”

As Nation Reckons with Racial Injustice, New Ad Urges Corporations, Police Unions to Withdraw November Ballot Initiative That Would Increase Prison Spending and Worsen Racial Disparities

June 23, 2020

Safeway and Ralph’s Have Joined Forces With Some of State’s Largest Police Unions to Bankroll Initiative That Would Increase Incarceration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
June 23, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice,
(909) 261-1398; [email protected]

OAKLAND, Calif. – A new radio and online advertisement released this week urges corporations and law enforcement unions to withdraw their support for a November statewide ballot initiative that would cost California as much as $450 million every year by increasing the state’s prison population. The measure would put more people in prison, with a disproportionate impact on communities of color, while taking away resources from programs in these communities. 

The advertisement highlights that the initiative, which is estimated to significantly increase the number of people incarcerated and funnel billions of dollars into law enforcement, is at odds with growing calls across the state and nation to shift dollars away from the criminal justice system and back to local communities.  

“As Americans confront injustice, why are corporations and police unions pushing an initiative to massively increase prison spending?” the ad says. “Tell backers to withdraw the prison spending scam.” 

Proponents have until June 25 to withdraw the measure from the ballot. 

“In recent years, California has proven that you can significantly reduce incarceration and the amount of money we waste on failed prisons, and redirect those hundreds of millions of dollars to strengthen the safety and well being of our communities,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, whose partner organization, ASJ Action Fund, released the ad. “At a time when the state faces a record budget deficit and there’s broad support for the need to reduce spending on prisons and the criminal justice system, an initiative that would reverse California’s progress to send incarceration and prison spending skyrocketing should be a non-starter.” 

The Prison Spending Initiative is being funded by nearly $3 million in campaign contributions from grocers like Albertson’s Safeway and some of the state’s largest police unions, including the Police Officers Research Association of California, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the Los Angeles Police Protective League. 

The initiative would prohibit people in prison from rehabilitating themselves before release, incarcerate people for the lowest-level offenses, and return people to prison for non-criminal violations of probation. According to a report released last week by the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the initiative would cost taxpayers as much as $457 million annually in increased incarceration costs.    

Budget Deal Puts California on Path Toward Significantly Reducing Investments in Failed Approaches to Safety

June 23, 2020

Roadmap for Closing Two State Prisons, Smart Improvements to State Parole and Protections for Investments in Programs That Support Survivors of Crime Highlight Budget Agreement  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
June 22, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected] 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders today announced an agreement on a 2020-2021 fiscal year budget that aims to shutter two state-owned and operated prisons by 2023 as part of a plan to balance the state budget in the face of a more than $50 billion deficit. 

The budget proposes closing one facility beginning in 2021-2022 and a second facility beginning in 2022-2023, while maintaining a Newsom’s plan to close all private, in-state contract correctional facilities for male inmates in 2020-2021. The budget also outlines a plan for strengthening the state’s parole system by aligning it with evidence-based practices that are proven to promote the success of people coming out of prison. 

Additionally, the budget protects a $23.5 million general fund investment that will ensure the state’s victim compensation fund is solvent and able to continue operating at current levels. The budget also contains more than $100 million in savings from reduced incarceration attributable to Proposition 47, money that will be reallocated back to local communities for crime prevention programs like drug treatment, medical and mental health programs and trauma recovery services to help survivors of crime heal.  “This budget is a step toward answering the demands of Californians and Americans across the country who are calling for a re-imagining of public safety that reduces spending on prisons and failed criminal justice policies, and instead invests in communities,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “In the face of a historic budget deficit, the legislature is to be commended for prioritizing support for survivors for crime and the health and well-being of all our communities. Californians today are more aware than ever that spending more on failed policies that undermine public safety takes dollars away from strategies that actually work to keep Californians safe. In order to get California’s economy back on track, we must invest in the necessities, things like hospitals, schools, housing, trauma recovery centers, reentry support and jobs, not prisons. And we must also continue to pursue smart strategies to further reduce incarceration so we can close prisons, save money and increase investments in communities.”

California Assembly Approves Bill Strengthening State Parole System by Improving Outcomes, Better Ensuring Success

June 15, 2020

A.B. 2342 Would Prioritize Successful Reintegration Over Enforcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

June 15, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The state Assembly on Monday passed in a bipartisan vote a bill that would improve parole system outcomes by positioning agents to better focus on ensuring the successful reintegration of people on parole back into the community. 

The bill, A.B. 2342, authored by Asm. Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and sponsored by a broad coalition of organizations including Californians for Safety and Justice, #cut50 and the REFORM Alliance, would reduce recidivism by incentivizing people on parole to earn their way off by completing educational, vocational and rehabilitative programs key to ensuring people are able to become contributing members of their families and communities.  

Other organizations sponsoring the bill include the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, Project Rebound, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Root & Rebound, Underground Scholars and the Young Women’s Freedom Center. 

Research shows that public safety is improved when the length of time a person will remain on parole reflects the person’s unique circumstances and conduct, and when the parole system puts more emphasis on rewarding people on parole for their acquisition of critical life skills than punishing people for making minor mistakes. Research has demonstrated that keeping people under state supervision for longer than is necessary can actually increase the likelihood they commit another crime.  

Research also shows that once a person successfully completes the first 180 days of parole supervision, the likelihood of that person reoffending decreases dramatically. 

The following can be attributed to Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice:

“California wastes tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year by needlessly supervising tens of thousands of people who pose little threat to the community and who have demonstrated success by not committing a crime while on parole or violating the terms of their supervision,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “A.B. 2342 will make our justice system smarter and our communities safer by grounding the parole system in the science that shows us what works best to reduce recidivism and break the cycle of crime. The bill will also help ensure our limited resources are focused on the people on parole who are most in need of help connecting to things like treatment, housing and other supports key to ensuring successful reintegration back into the community.”

Justice and Safety Advocates Applaud Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Proposal to Close Two State Prisons in Response to Unprecedented Budget Deficit

May 14, 2020

Governor’s Revised Budget Also Proposes Smart Improvements to State Parole and Protects Investments in Programs That Support Survivors of Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | May 14, 2020

CONTACT: Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice,
(909) 261-1398; [email protected]afeandjust.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom today proposed shuttering two state prisons by 2023 as part of a plan to balance the state budget in the face of a more than $50 billion deficit. 

The proposal in Newsom’s revised budget builds on the original budget Newsom released in January in which he indicated he would close a state prison in the next five years. The May revision proposes closing one facility beginning in 2021-2022 and a second facility beginning in 2022-2023. It maintains Newsom’s plan to close all private, in-state contract correctional facilities for male inmates in 2020-2021. The governor’s revised budget also outlines a plan for strengthening the state’s parole system by aligning it with evidence-based practices that are proven to promote the success of people coming out of prison. 

The budget protects a $23.5 million general fund investment that will ensure the state’s victim compensation fund is solvent and able to continue operating at current levels. The May revision also contains more than $100 million in savings from reduced incarceration attributable to Proposition 47, money that will be reallocated back to local communities for crime prevention programs like drug treatment, medical and mental health programs. 

“The governor’s revised budget proposal reflects what California voters have known for a long time – that continued wasteful spending on failed prisons is bad for safety and our budgets,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “As state leaders grapple with a historic budget crisis, the choice couldn’t be clearer that investments in helping survivors of crime and supporting the health of communities should be the priority. It’s time for a new normal. Long term investments in failed crime policies that have proven to undermine public safety only serve to siphon public dollars from effective strategies that keep Californians safe and healthy. Hospitals, schools, housing, trauma recovery services, reentry support, and jobs are the things that will help California get back on track, not prisons.”

Crime Survivor Network Supports Public Health Approach to Safety That Reduces Prison Overcrowding to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus

March 31, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 31, 2020

CONTACT:

Will Matthews, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, the nation’s largest network of survivors of crime that originated in California, applauded the plan announced on Tuesday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to release 3,500 people from state prison. The plan seeks to stop the spread of COVID-19 by alleviating crowding in the state prison system. 

Under the plan set to go into effect over the next several weeks, the state will release 3,500 people serving sentences for non-violent offenses and who were already due to be released within the next 60 days.

The following can be attributed to Tinisch Hollins, California state director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice: 

“We support the decision of Gov. Newsom and CDCR to reduce overcrowding in state prisons as the pathway to prioritizing public health, protecting everyone from COVID-19 and advancing public safety. Over-incarceration that crowds out investments in the health of communities is the wrong approach that has continued for too long. We must commit to not only reducing spending on wasteful incarceration-focused approaches, but also increase funding support for the services that actually make communities healthier and safer, now and in the long-term.”

Sen. Durazo for Introduces Bill to Provide Housing Protections that Ensure Safety of All Violent Crime Victims 

February 24, 2020

Sponsored by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, nationally groundbreaking bill would enable survivors to relocate without penalty 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Feb. 21, 2020

CONTACT:
Tien Tran, Senator Durazo Senate Fellow, (916)651-4024; [email protected]

Will Matthews, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected] 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Last week, Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) on Thursday introduced legislation that would help ensure the safety and security of all survivors of violent crime by enabling them to relocate without penalty. 

The bill, SB 1190 (Durazo), would enable all victims of violent crimes and their families to terminate a lease without penalty within 180 days of the crime having occurred. The measure is sponsored by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a national network of over 40,000 crime survivors whose local chapters and members make up California’s largest statewide group of crime victims. 

“We should protect the rights of tenants, especially tenants experiencing the most vulnerable of circumstances,” said Durazo. “SB 1190 would extend relocation benefits to all victims and household members of violent crimes. Fundamental to recovery for these households is finding a stable, safe home.” 

Currently, California law ensures that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking and  elder or dependent adult abuse and their families can terminate a lease without penalty following the occurrence of the crime. But victims of other violent crimes are not afforded the same protection. 

If signed into law SB 1190 would extend relocation protections to all victims of violent crime and their families and would expand existing forms of acceptable documentation to verify the crime, such as a police report, restraining order, medical or mental health care provider report and certain caseworker reports. 

SB 1190 would also ensure that landlords do not discriminate against tenants by refusing to rent to tenants for having broken a lease subject to their rights in the past. 

After a violent crime, victims and their families face significant challenges to maintaining a stable, safe home and in many circumstances need to quickly relocate. A crime may have occurred inside or near the home, for example, and staying in the victims’ home may increase risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and expose victims to further violence. Not allowing survivors to break a lease without penalty can force them to endure financial and housing insecurity. 

If a crime victim is forced to break their lease, it can lead to legal action against them, affect their credit score, jeopardize the return of their security deposit, and also result in an early termination fee.

“Doing whatever we can to protect survivors of violent crime is key to ensuring the health and security of families and entire communities,” said Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “Preventing survivors from being re-victimized by making sure they have housing stability in the wake of traumatic tragedy is a key piece of a comprehensive approach to community safety and Sen. Durazo should be commended for exercising leadership on behalf of survivors and the safety of all of our neighborhoods.”  

###

Californians for Safety and Justice Hails Gov. Newsom’s Proposed Budget for Making Investments into Safety

January 10, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 10, 2020

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice,
(909) 261-1398; [email protected]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Californians for Safety and Justice commended Gov. Gavin Newsom for releasing a proposed budget that contains investments in proven public safety strategies and a clear roadmap for shuttering a state prison, while investing unprecedented resources to safeguard the state’s program to support crime victims’ recovery and continue critical improvements to California’s probation system.

The budget also includes a record $122.5 million in Proposition 47 savings – an increase of $44 million from last year’s savings due primarily to the state’s reduced reliance on private prisons. Each year, the money saved as a result of reduced incarceration from Proposition 47, passed overwhelmingly by state voters in 2014, is returned to local communities to fund treatment and mental health programs, truancy prevention programs and trauma recovery services that help survivors of crime heal from their trauma.

INVESTING IN PROBATION SUCCESS

The governor’s budget includes an investment of more than $200 million over the next four years aimed at reducing the recidivism of people on local probation. The budget also includes reforms to reduce felony and misdemeanor probation terms to two years, and allow for earned discharge for probationers, which is aligned research showing that the maximum time needed to engage people on probation in behavior change and reduce the likelihood of reoffending is no more than two years. The governor’s proposal is a smart investment that improves public safety and saves taxpayer money. It also builds upon the successes of county probation departments in recent years to reduce prison and jail populations by expanding practices proven to reduce recidivism, enhance the success of people exiting probation and increase the stability of communities.

California is safer when our public safety systems focus on what works best to reduce recidivism and make communities healthier and safer,” said Lenore Anderson, president of Californians for Safety and Justice. “When probation system resources are tailored to incentivize success and meet individual underlying needs, we can better ensure the cycles of crime and incarceration stop. Under the governor’s proposal, people will move forward to get jobs and contribute to their families and communities.”

CLOSING A STATE PRISON

The governor’s proposed budget anticipates the state prison population will continue to decline by about 4,300 prisoners between 2021 and 2024 which would allow California to close a state-operated prison in the next five years.

“Over-incarceration and wasteful prison spending undermine public safety,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “The status quo of unchecked multi-billion dollar prison spending contributes to high recidivism rates and the destabilizing of communities, failing to stop cycles of crime. We applaud the governor’s leadership to advance a proposal that is a smart step forward for California and public safety.”

PROVIDING HISTORIC SUPPORT FOR CRIME VICTIMS

The governor’s budget proposal also commits funding to ensure the health of the state’s victim compensation fund that provides essential support for survivors of crime. The proposal would make California one of a handful of states in the nation to commit general fund dollars to its victim compensation fund. The governor’s budget provides necessary support to the crime victim support program without relying on increased fines and fees imposed on Californians by courts and the justice system.

“California’s victims’ compensation fund is crucial for enabling survivors of crime to recover from trauma and the other negative consequences associated with crime and violence,” said Tinisch Hollins, California state director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “Gov. Newsom deserves credit for boldly standing with survivors and demonstrating national leadership to ensure those most impacted by crime can access the help they need.”

Californians for Safety and Justice also commends Gov. Newsom for including in his budget proposal commitments to reviewing records in statewide criminal justice databases to identify people eligible to have old convictions expunged and having those expungements happen automatically, as well as bolstering the capacity and role of the public defender. The governor’s proposal also includes a significant commitment to the rehabilitation of state prisoners, including bringing back a third day of visitation, expanding classroom technology for education programming within CDCR, and expanding the youth offender program at Valley State Prison.

 

BACKGROUND ON PROBATION

●      Probation is a form of community supervision to effectively hold people accountable for their rehabilitation without the use of incarceration.

o   Its goal is to prevent crime, reduce recidivism, and promote safe and healthy communities.

o   It is a connector between state and local government, the courts, education and the community, prioritizing a balance of services and supervision to address people’s underlying challenges so they successfully exit the justice system for good.

●      There are 10 times more people sentenced to probation annually than are incarcerated, but it receives just a fraction of state public safety resources.

●      Over the past several years, California’s probation system has progressed to significantly reduce the percentage of people cycling in and out of the justice system.  Legislation like SB 678 have dramatically reduced the number of people sent back to state prison for a technical violation of their supervision.

●      The governor’s budget adheres to scientific research and field perspectives that show most of what probation can accomplish can happen within a two-year supervision term, in most cases.

●      Successful probation programs incentivize behavior change by allowing people to earn an earlier exit from the program by successfully completing job training, treatment and educational programming.

●      Research also shows that the level of supervision should be individually tailored and based entirely on the risk that person poses and the support they would need to change their behavior, rather than simply based on the crime for which the person was convicted.

o   The governor’s budget would expand and support the services that probation can use to successfully address each individual’s needs, frontloading them for maximum impact toward increasing stability and reducing recidivism.

o   The number of people placed on misdemeanor or court probation continues to grow but that system has not utilized the best practices of the rest of the probation system, something the governor’s budget proposes to fix by aligning best practices.

▪       This would address some of the chronic repeat misdemeanor offending.

Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Making Criminal Justice System Data More Transparent and Accessible

October 9, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 8, 2019

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed a bill that will enhance data-driven policy development by making criminal justice data more transparent, accessible and reliable.

The bill, AB 1331, authored by Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice, will address data gaps and improve access to criminal justice data by establishing reporting requirements and clarifying existing law regarding access to information, enabling California to reach its full potential as a state committed to data-driven criminal justice operations and policy, as well as transparency.

California began regulating the collection of criminal justice data in 1955, when the legislature passed laws mandating the Department of Justice to collect criminal justice data from a wide variety of criminal justice agencies, including police departments, courts, district attorneys, probation departments, and others.

But the state’s criminal history records suffer from pervasive data gaps that undermine their accuracy and reliability, including missing and/or delayed arrest and case dispositions, missing information regarding failures to appear, and missing or incomplete sentencing information. Data limitations, as well as obstacles to accessing this data also undercut the state’s ability to analyze criminal justice policy proposals and interventions. Even as California pushes its criminal justice system to embrace major data-driven reforms, legislators are deprived of essential data and analysis to evaluate their impact.

Jerron Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice: “We can’t allow a failure to maintain up-to-date information to undermine our criminal justice system any longer. Accurate and reliable criminal justice data is crucial for ensuring that the system keeps our communities safe, treats everyone fairly and is able to evolve and improve based on data and emerging knowledge.”