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As Urgent Need Grows, California’s Largest Crime Victims Organization Calls on Cities and Counties to Use Federal American Rescue Plan Dollars for Direct Cash Assistance to Victims of Violence

July 14, 2021

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Announces “We Are Survivors” Campaign That Will Provide $100,000 Directly to Victims, Demands Local Leaders Match Investment 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 14, 2021

CONTACT: Californians for Safety and Justice; [email protected] 

OAKLAND, Calif. – As California reopens and grapples with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly a rise in violence spurred by the worsened economic and social circumstances of the past year — thousands of crime survivors across the state demanded on Wednesday that cities and counties make immediate investments in direct cash assistance to crime victims and their families, especially survivors in those communities most impacted by violence and harm.

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ), the largest organization of crime victims in California, with over 10,000 members who have survived crime and violence, also announced on Wednesday a new “We Are Survivors” grant program that will put money directly in the hands of survivors in desperate need of support and services to help them heal from their trauma. As part of the campaign, CSSJ is demanding that city councils and boards of supervisors across the state use some of the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to local governments as part of the American Rescue Plan for direct cash assistance to survivors that matches or exceeds the $100,000 CSSJ is awarding to leading, community-based survivor-led organizations up and down the state.

“The justice system has and is failing to meet the needs of victims from Black, Brown and other underserved communities, who comprise the majority of California’s survivors of crime and violence,” said Tina Rodriguez, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “Instead of continuing to be ignored by a criminal justice system that was never built to help those who need it the most, we’re going to increase safety and wellness in our communities by making sure survivors get the support they need. It is crucial that survivor-led organizations are able to provide direct, local, community-based support that is divorced from law enforcement offices.”    

The $100,000 will be dispersed to eight different organizations chosen because they are led by survivors of crime and have a documented successful history of providing direct assistance to vulnerable populations in need. The recipient organizations will then provide resources directly to victims who have experienced violence including sexual assault, domestic violence, gun violence and more. Support will extend to surviving family members and/or individuals who have been directly impacted by an incident like a neighbor or member of the household. The money can be used for things like funeral and burial costs, home or vehicle modifications for victims who become disabled, medical treatment, mental health services and other things key to ensuring a survivor can heal. 

The grant recipients are:

  • Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts (L.A.U.R.A.), which supports survivors of violence in South Central Los Angeles
  • Champions in Service, which provides wrap around services to people in the greater Los Angeles area who have been marginalized by poverty, drug addiction and trauma
  • Take a Stand in Fresno, Calif., which does community outreach aimed at eradicating violence by empowering individuals and families and providing alternatives to at-risk youth
  • Kelly’s Angels Foundation in Stockton, Calif., which provides services for children impacted by homicide 
  • Community Youth Center of San Francisco, which encourages diverse populations of high need young people to succeed
  • Us 4 Us Bay Area, which uplifts people through community action and violence prevention based on knowledge of self-resources and mentorship
  • Broken by Violence in the East San Francisco Bay Area, which provides an array of support services to people impacted by violence
  • Jr.’s Trauma Care Initiative in San Diego, which helps people impacted by violence regain purpose in their lives and treatment for traumatic experiences.

The grantee organizations have begun distributing funds to those in need, and will continue through the summer. In some of the first support extended through the We Are Survivors program, Take A Stand in Fresno enabled Regina Williams of Fresno, whose son was killed in a shooting earlier this month, to get away for a few days to grieve and begin to heal. 

“Survivors from communities most harmed and least helped know best what can make our families and our communities safer,” said Janice Sumler, the founder and director of Take a Stand. “We are proud and grateful to participate in this groundbreaking initiative that will help make sure people with the greatest need, like Regina and her family, get the healing and support they deserve.”

According to a 2019 statewide survey of survivors of crime, about one in three Californians have been a victim of crime in the last 10 years. Of those victims, less than one in five report receiving financial assistance, counseling, medical assistance or other types of healing services that can help someone recover from the trauma of a crime. Only 14 percent of crime victims feel “very supported” by the criminal justice system after experiencing a crime, according to the survey. 

“Crime survivors in California – particularly those from communities that are most harmed by violence but least helped – are in crisis,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “For the past year, we have endured new and huge barriers to support as well as a national uptick in certain kinds of crime, compounding the effects of decades of failure to advance real safety solutions in poor communities and communities of color. But California has an opportunity now to right the wrongs the system has created and to listen to all survivors, trust the people who are most harmed, and respond directly to survivors’ needs.”

Californians for Safety and Justice Lauds Unprecedented Investment in Proven Crime Prevention Strategies in Budget Agreement

July 13, 2021

More Than $500 Million Dedicated to Preventing Harm and Violence from Occurring in First Place, Meeting Needs of Victims
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
July 13, 2021
 
CONTACT: Californians for Safety and Justice; [email protected]
 
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Californians for Safety and Justice, the state’s leading criminal justice reform
organization, on Tuesday commended Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing into law a fiscal year 2021-2022
budget that includes unprecedented investments in proven crime prevention strategies and meeting the
needs of victims of crime. 
 
The budget, which Newsom signed into law Monday evening, comes as the state grapples with an uptick
in violence resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic’s destabilization of individuals, families and entire
communities. 
 
Contained in the budget framework is a $200 million, one-time general fund allotment over the next
three years for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) grant program that helps
reduce gun violence. The budget framework also includes a $175 million general fund investment in
various programs that help meet the needs of survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, human
trafficking and forced sterilization. More than $50 million has been dedicated for reentry supports such as
prison to employment opportunities and removal of barriers for successful re-entry. 
 
And the budget contains a record $116.2 million in savings from continued reductions in state prison
incarceration as a result of Proposition 47, the 2014 ballot initiative approved overwhelmingly by voters
that reduced the penalty for petty theft and possession of drugs for personal use from a felony to a
misdemeanor. The Proposition 47 savings are reallocated back to local communities for mental health
and addiction treatment programs, truancy prevention programs and trauma recovery services for victims
proven to prevent crime from occurring in the first place. 
 
The following can be attributed to Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and
Justice:
 
“Our communities are hurting and in urgent need of support. These investments are critical as we begin
to address the way that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated decades of underinvestment in some
communities and caused a rise in violence. During the past decade we’ve taken significant steps toward
transforming our justice system into one that prioritizes the needs of communities and prevents crime
and harm from occurring in the first place. We’ve known for a long time what works and what doesn’t to
protect our neighborhoods from harm and now we have the research to back up our decades of lived
experience showing that over-reliance on incarceration does nothing to prevent crime and in fact only
compounds the conditions that fuel violence. Gov. Newsom and the Legislature should be commended for
passing a budget that prioritizes immediate and targeted investments in community-based initiatives that
are best equipped to work with our most vulnerable populations. The need for funding for proven,
community-based programs like violence intervention, assertive outreach, youth employment and mentoring programs, community-based victim support and trauma recovery services has never been
more acute. We thank the governor and our legislative leaders for seeking to meet this moment by
providing the support and resources our communities so desperately need.”

Assembly Public Safety Committee Approves Two Groundbreaking Bills That Would Increase Safety

July 1, 2021

Senate Bills 299 and 731 Would Eliminate Barriers to Services for Victims, Boost Economic Opportunity by Sealing Many Old Conviction Records

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 29, 2021

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The state Assembly on Tuesday approved two pieces of legislation that will bolster the safety of California communities by ensuring all survivors of violence are able to access the services they need to heal and recover and that an old conviction record won’t prevent people from becoming productive and contributing members of their families and communities.

S.B. 731, authored by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles) would create a comprehensive process to seal conviction and arrest records in California once a person has fully completed their sentence and gone two years without further contact with the justice system.

Supported by more than 110 groups across the business, labor, faith, law enforcement and justice reform sectors in the state, including Californians for Safety and Justice, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and many others, the bill was passed by the committee on a 6-2 vote.

S.B. 299, authored by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), is a first-of-its-kind bill that, if signed into law by the governor, would extend victim compensation to survivors of police violence. It also passed on a 6-2 vote.

The bill would recognize victims of police abuse and brutality as victims eligible for compensation, eliminate a requirement that victims of police violence provide a police report to prove eligibility for compensation, and limit California Victim Compensation Board denials of support to victims of police violence and families who lose a loved one to homicide based on confusing language that allows the victim to be viewed as culpable for their own victimization, injury or death.

The bill is sponsored by, among others, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, the largest network of survivors of crime in the nation and California.

“Preventing harm and violence from occurring in the first place is the key to keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice and herself a survivor of crime who has lost two brothers to gun violence. “Doing that requires ensuring all victims have access to the services and support needed to heal from their trauma and that people are not permanently banished to the margins of society because of an old conviction for which they have fully completed their sentence and paid all their debts. For far too long, violence has been inflicted upon our communities by law enforcement with no accountability, creating generations of traumatized victims who are barred from accessing the help they need to heal. And instead of keeping us safe, post-conviction restrictions that in many cases never go away make it harder for Californians to rebuild productive and full lives. Both of these important bills reflect a smart and effective approach to safety that is grounded in research and data and a rejection of the failed approaches of the past. We are grateful for the leadership of Sens. Durazo, Bradfield and Leyva and look forward to these bills becoming law.”

Crime Survivors Respond to White House Announcement on Addressing and Preventing Violence, Los Angeles’ Commitment to Community Violence Intervention

June 23, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 23, 2021

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

LOS ANGELES – In response to the White House announcement of a comprehensive strategy that partners with 15 cities, including Los Angeles, to stem increased violence, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) released the following statement from Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, a survivor of crime and CSSJ leader:

“Although crime has been trending downward across America for at least two decades, and is currently at a historic low, the conditions created by COVID-19 over the past year exacerbated a violence crisis that has been building for years and is worsening this summer in communities hit hardest by the pandemic. The majority of survivors of violent crime believe that simply responding to crime after it’s already occurred doesn’t work—because that approach fails to prevent harm from occurring in the first place. 

“We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration’s announcement of a comprehensive strategy to combat violence by funding preventative measures that are proven to stop the cycle of crime, better support survivors of violence, and make communities safer. 

“Crime survivors in California celebrate Los Angeles’ commitment to use a portion of its American Rescue Plan funds to increase investments in community violence intervention infrastructure. As one of the 15 cities who has made this commitment, Los Angeles should use recovery dollars to re-fund programs that were cut due to pandemic-related revenue shortfalls, like crime victim services, reentry assistance, and trauma recovery services. 

“We have made significant strides in recent years transforming our justice system into one that prioritizes the needs of communities and prevents crime and harm from occurring in the first place, and as a result we know what works and what doesn’t to protect our neighborhoods from harm. We need immediate and targeted investments in community-based initiatives that are best equipped to work with our most vulnerable populations. Los Angeles city leaders should also use these funds to make new, immediate investments in evidence-based community violence interventions, summer programming including employment and mentoring for youth, mental health, re-entry programs, and trauma recovery services.

“The California chapter of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice represents more than 10,100 diverse survivors of crime and violence. Together, we know that cities and states choosing to shift funds away from the criminal justice system and toward essential services for communities most impacted by COVID-19 will have a major positive impact on community safety.”

Justice and Safety Advocates Applaud Gov. Newsom’s Historic Proposed $200 Million for Violence Prevention & Intervention in Budget

May 14, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | May 14, 2021

CONTACT: [email protected]

Governor’s Revised Budget also proposes supporting crime victim services and increased investments in mental health resources for Californians impacted by the justice system; state has record Prop 47 savings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom today proposed a $200 million investment in the California Violence Intervention and Prevention program that supports proven community-based violence reduction initiatives, such as hospital-based intervention and street outreach programs. 

Newsom’s revised budget also proposes to allocate $100 million for victim services to offset a loss in federal Victim of Crime Act grants. The governor’s spending plan also outlines increased investments of $250 million in mental health resources for Californians as a preventive alternative to people entering the justice system and incarceration. The May revision also contains more than $116 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 many of the urgent public safety priorities of our state,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “As we emerge from a pandemic that has been devastating to the health and safety of Californians, this budget rightly invests in violence prevention at the community level, crime victim services, and mental health programs that divert people from incarceration that worsens their conditions. Too many communities have been harmed by the decades of underinvestment in their safety and wasteful spending on over-incarceration, leading this global health crisis to compound those problems and increase community violence. The governor’s budget is an important step in the right direction towards aligning state investments with critical safety priorities that actually make us safer.”

California Crime Survivors Release 10-Point “Victims’ Agenda” Calling for Leaders to Prioritize Urgent Needs of Diverse Victims of Crime

March 19, 2021

State’s Leading Survivor Organizations Call on Lawmakers to Invest in Stabilizing California’s Victim Compensation and Violence Intervention and Prevention Programs

OAKLAND, Calif. – A network of 10,000 California crime victims, largely made up of women and people of color, have announced a 10-point agenda outlining steps California should take to prioritize the needs of the state’s diverse crime victims. 

Released by the California chapter of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, the largest network of crime victims in the nation, the agenda calls on lawmakers across California to make immediate and significant investments in victim compensation, as well as violence intervention and violence prevention programs. It urges allocations from the state’s general fund of $115 million to both the California Violence Intervention Program for use by frontline service providers and $115 million to the California Victim Compensation Board to permanently stabilize victim compensation funding and end the over-reliance on fines and fees.

The agenda also calls for:

  • Expanding the rights of victims of crime by increasing legal protections for victims to prevent job and housing loss, expanding victims’ civil legal services to help all victims recover and ensuring dignity, respect and support for victims of unsolved crimes
  • Ending discrimination faced by many victims by expanding eligibility to victim services to all victims of crime and violence and eradicating racial disparities in access to compensation and services
  • Providing real help to victims by reaching more survivors in crises more quickly, covering the actual costs of recovery by increasing benefits and covering a diverse range of healing, treatment and support services, ensuring that trauma recovery services are available and investing in community-based victim services providers.

The agenda was released at a Town Hall led by Tinisch Hollins of Californians for Safety and Justice and Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. Panelists included Asm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco), as well as leaders from the Chinese Progressive Association, Futures Without Violence, Peace Over Violence, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Black Women Revolt and Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence, and more. The state’s leading victims’ groups also sent a letter to leaders of the state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Victims of Violent Crime in Los Angeles County Favor Investments in Crime Prevention Over Incarceration, New Survey Finds

March 4, 2021

County’s Criminal Justice System Fails to Support Survivors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2021 

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

LOS ANGELES — New survey reveals that a huge majority of victims of violent crime in Los Angeles County feel the criminal justice system failed them in their time of need and that justice system resources should be invested in crime prevention, not incarceration. The survey was conducted over a seven day period in early February by David Binder Research.

According to the responses of 724 crime survivors in the nation’s most populous county, fewer than three in 10 victims of violent crime receive victim support services. Most said they were not even aware of the existence of such services, despite a majority reporting they would have wanted services such as counseling, medical care and financial support.

The survey also shows that most victims of violent crime want changes to the criminal justice system that emphasize rehabilitation and crime prevention, rather than more incarceration. Large majorities support policies to shift resources away from incarceration and instead invest them in prevention, rehabilitation, and support services. Asked about criminal justice preferences, the vast majority of violent crime victims said they support community-based victim services, mental health crisis response, and violence prevention outreach workers as well as alternatives to incarceration and reducing sentences for people in prison that participate in rehabilitation.

“This data aligns with what we’ve known for many years, that the majority of survivors of violent crime believe that a justice system that simply responds to crime after it’s already occurred does nothing to prevent harm from occurring again in the future,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, herself a survivor of crime who has lost two brothers to gun violence. “The communities most affected by violence want increased investments in public health resources, violence prevention and rehabilitation that stop cycles of crime. Yet, public dialogue often excludes the voices of Black and Brown survivors, many of whom are most harmed by the failures of our public safety system and least helped by that same system. It’s critical that decision-makers hear our voices now. Because more than anything else, most crime survivors want what happened to them to never happen to anyone else again. Mass incarceration and more excessive spending on the criminal justice system won’t accomplish that.”               

According to the survey, 65 percent of respondents favored taking individual circumstances into account over automatically adding extra years onto a sentence because of past convictions. Sixty-one percent of respondents favor rehabilitation, mental health treatment and drug treatment over punishment through incarceration. An identical 61 percent said they favor shorter prison sentences and spending more money on prevention and rehabilitation over prison sentences that keep people in prison for as long as possible. And a whopping 69 percent of respondents said they favor solving neighborhood problems and stopping repeat crimes through prevention and rehabilitation, even if it means fewer convictions, over prosecuting crimes to get as many convictions and prison sentences as possible. 

In addition, according to the survey: 

  • 88 percent of victims support expanding community-based victim services to help more victims of violence get access to programs that help them with stability and recovery from trauma
  • 85 percent of victims support increasing the number of community-based violence prevention workers who mediate conflicts and help prevent young people from getting involved in gangs or gun violence
  • 82 percent of survivors favor alternatives to incarceration such as diversion, mental health treatment, restorative justice, and community services
  •  82 percent support expanding mental health crisis response so that emergency calls about psychiatric crises are handled by mental health experts instead of police
  • 80 percent are in support of reducing prison sentences for people in prison who participate in rehabilitation, mental health, substance abuse, educational, or vocational programs

The survey also found that just 21 percent of victims received help understanding the courts and legal system in the aftermath of their crime, only 25 percent received medical assistance or physical therapy, less than 30 percent received counseling or other mental health support and just 15 percent of victims received emergency or temporary housing.

“Our communities are in the midst of a violence and homicide crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and decades of systemic failure to advance real safety solutions in communities most harmed. We simply cannot afford to react in a way that just responds to harm and violence after it has already occurred,” said Hollins. “This is an issue that must transcend politics. Human lives are at stake. We must ensure we invest in the policies and approaches that science and data have proven to prevent violence and harm from occurring in the first place.”    

A memo outlining the survey results is available online here

About Californians for Safety and JusticeCalifornians for Safety and Justice (CSJ) is a nonprofit working with Californians from all walks of life to replace prison and justice system waste with common sense solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars. Through policy advocacy, grassroots mobilization, public education, alliances and support for local best practices, we promote strategies to stop the cycle of crime, reduce reliance on incarceration and build healthy communities. For more information, please visit: safeandjust.org

Senator María Elena Durazo Introduces Groundbreaking Legislation to Automatically and Permanently Seal Old Conviction Records in California

March 3, 2021

New Report Provides Clear Picture of Economic Harm of Pushing People Living with an Old Conviction Record Out of Workforce; California Loses Approximately $20 Billion Annually

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2021

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

OAKLAND, Calif – Sen. María Elena Durazo on Wednesday introduced a groundbreaking piece of criminal justice reform legislation that would effectively seal old legal records in California. It would end the systemic disenfranchisement and employment barriers faced by millions of Californians living with a past conviction that disproportionately affects people of color and costs the state approximately $20 billion every year in economic activity.  

The bill, S.B. 731, would create a comprehensive process to automatically seal conviction and arrest records in the state of California once a person has fully completed their sentence and successfully gone two years without further contact with the justice system. Records of arrests that didn’t result in a conviction would also be automatically sealed.  

The bill would also provide a much-needed and major economic boost to California in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, curbing the estimated $20 billion in yearly gross domestic product that the state currently loses due to the widespread unemployment and underemployment of people living with a past conviction.

The bill is being sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice, Homeboy industries – the first time in the storied organization’s history it is sponsoring legislation – Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and the Los Angeles Regional Re-entry Project. 

“Preventing people with an old conviction record from ever being able to regain full citizenship status after fully completing their sentence and paying their debts makes us all less safe,” said Jay Jordan, vice president of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, the national sponsor organization of Californians for Safety and Justice. “We no longer can afford to undermine the strength of our state’s economy, destabilize families and communities, and maintain policies at odds with California’s core values of justice and fairness. We must enact new policies that prioritize our collective health and safety by enabling every Californian to contribute to our state and its economy, not perpetuate the leftover harm from failed criminal justice system policies of the past that voters have repeatedly rejected.”

In conjunction with the bill’s introduction, Californians for Safety and Justice and UNITE-LA released a new report, “Getting Back to Work: Revamping the Economy by Removing Past Records,” providing a clear picture of the scale of economic harm caused by these barriers faced by people living with an old conviction.

The report shows that in 2018:

  • 2.5 million working age Californians were living with a felony record
  • The state lost $20 billion (in 2021 dollars) in gross domestic product – the total value of goods produced and services provided – due to the barriers preventing people living with a past felony legal record from gaining full employment and contributing to the economy  
  • The Los Angeles region alone lost more than $9 billion from their GDP, and eight Bay Area counties lost over $4 billion from their economic output.
  • Five counties in the central valley region lost nearly $1.5 billion in GDP
  • Sacramento and three neighboring counties lost nearly $800 million from their GDP

 “Our conviction & arrest records system forces the people who go through it – our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters – to face obstacles for the rest of their lives, in every aspect of their lives,” said Senator Durazo. “The completion of a prison sentence should pave the way for a complete return to participate fully in society. But for millions of Californians, their conviction history turns into a lifelong sentence of limited access to employment, housing, education, and the ability to live a full, normal life and provide for their families.”

“Rather than keeping us safe, long-lasting post-conviction restrictions make it harder for Californians to rebuild productive and full lives,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “Sealing or ‘sunsetting’ old conviction records aligns with California voters’ repeated decisions to abandon failed criminal justice system policies that are responsible for the expansion of these old legal records, keeping the state on a path toward achieving real safety.”

Californians for Safety and Justice Names Tinisch Hollins as New Executive Director

March 2, 2021

Hollins Will be the First Black Woman and First Crime Survivor to Lead California’s Largest Criminal Justice Reform Advocacy Organization  

Jay Jordan named Alliance for Safety and Justice Vice President 

OAKLAND, Calif.Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ), California’s largest criminal justice reform advocacy organization today announced that Tinisch Hollins will be its new executive director. Hollins, a San Francisco native who previously led Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice in California as its state director, will be the first Black woman and first crime survivor to lead the organization responsible for many of California’s major criminal justice and community safety reforms. 

“When it comes to advocating for and delivering on a new vision for public safety, Californians deserve an empathetic, strategic leader who understands what’s at stake,” said Lenore Anderson, founder of Californians for Safety and Justice and president of Alliance for Safety and Justice, the national sponsor organization of CSJ. “Tinisch Hollins’ deep understanding of what communities in our state need to be safe and her long-term commitment to being a servant leader make her the right person to deliver safety for Californians. Tinisch can mobilize communities most impacted, and has proven that she can compel lawmakers to act. Countless California families will benefit from her leadership — and thousands already have.”

In her new role, Hollins will ensure that victims of crime are centered in conversations about public safety. She knows the weight of trauma and violence personally, having lost two of her brothers within five years to violence. First as the Bay Area chapter coordinator of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, and later as its California state director, Hollins successfully fought for increased protections and support for crime victims. Her leadership helped to pass  historic first-in-the-nation legislation that extended employment leave for all survivors of violence, as well as legislation permitting crime victims to terminate their leases if they no longer feel safe in their homes following a crime. Tinisch also played a pivotal leadership role in the defeat of Proposition 20, a regressive ballot measure on the 2020 California ballot that sought to repeal numerous successful criminal justice reforms. Prior to joining CSJ in 2019, Tinisch served in various leadership capacities in local government, including at the San Francisco Human Services Agency and in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.  

Californians for Safety and Justice has played a major role in criminal justice reform victories in the state over the past decade, including:

  • Reducing California’s population of people incarcerated by roughly 50,000 by passing Propositions 47 and 57, as well as numerous other legislative changes
  • Securing funding for more than a dozen trauma recovery centers, which provide services to help underserved victims of violent crime to recover from trauma and regain stability
  • Expanding protections once available only to victims of domestic violence or sexual assault to all victims of violence, such as extended employment leave after the incident, and allowing victims of violence to break a lease to relocate so they can feel safe in their homes

“It’s an honor to lead this incredible organization, which has already accomplished so much in California,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “I’m looking forward to adding to our winning record for communities and solidifying California’s position as a national leader of criminal justice reform. There’s so much more we can still do to support communities and crime survivors, building a system better rooted in public health and safety. I’m hungry to get started.”  

CSJ’s current executive director, Jay Jordan, will move over to the national Alliance for Safety and Justice organization to serve as Vice President. After approximately two years as CSJ Executive Director, Jay ushered in nearly a dozen criminal justice reforms. He helped lead successful efforts to defeat Proposition 20, advocate for prison closures, and increase resources for reentry programming in the state. He also co-founded the TimeDone campaign, which organizes people living with past conviction records to eliminate the barriers to opportunity that block them from success. He will continue to support CSJ’s bold policy agenda in his new role as ASJ Vice President, working collaboratively with Tinisch to advance reforms. 

Anderson said: “Jay has been a fantastic leader for CSJ for the last two years and we look forward to seeing his leadership grow across the country.   

About Californians for Safety and Justice

Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ) is a nonprofit working with Californians from all walks of life to replace prison and justice system waste with common sense solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars. Through policy advocacy, grassroots mobilization, public education, alliances and support for local best practices, we promote strategies to stop the cycle of crime, reduce reliance on incarceration and build healthy communities. For more information, please visit: safeandjust.org

Californians for Safety and Justice Lauds Committee on Revision of the Penal Code Recommendations

February 9, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2021

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

OAKLAND, Calif. – Californians for Safety and Justice on Tuesday applauded the California Committee on Revision of the Penal Code’s initial recommendations to protect and enhance the safety and well-being of communities while limiting needlessly harsh and counter-productive prison sentences.

The Committee’s recommendations include

  • Ending mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes
  •  Limiting excessive sentence enhancement
  • Reforming parole rules
  • Ending longer punishment for people with mental illnes
  • Providing sentencing reconsideration after 15 years of incarceration

According to polling by David Binder Research last year, California voters overwhelmingly support ideas like these for safely reducing incarceration to curtail prison spending that would save billions of dollars. By a margin of more than two to one, voters support reducing incarceration for people determined to be low risk to public safety in order to close prisons and reduce the prison budget by $1 billion. And more than 7 in 10 state voters favor the review of sentences for people who have already served 10 or more years in prison.

In a 2017 report, Californians for Safety and Justice urged state leaders to reduce state imprisonment by 30,000 people, allowing California to close five prisons and save – conservatively – about $1.5 billion annually in state prison spending. The Legislative Analyst’s Office late last year echoed that call. These savings could be reallocated to more effective approaches aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of all California Communities, as outlined in the groundbreaking Blueprint for Shared Safety released by Californians for Safety and Justice in 2016.

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

“California still wastes more than $13 billion every year on ineffective prisons, and implementation of these important recommendations from the California Committee on Revision of the Penal Code would allow for a major and long-overdue rebalancing of our public safety investments. The unresolved drivers of crime will continue to plague our neighborhoods until and unless we stop overspending on incarceration and prisons and invest in proven strategies that successfully prevent crime from occurring in the first place. It  is also a public health imperative that these recommendations be implemented, given how the state’s overcrowded prison system has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 and exacerbated community spread. There has never been a more important time to build out new safety priorities that are rooted in prevention, healing and community health and well-being. State lawmakers must harness the popular support for these recommendations to ensure they are enacted, advancing the health and safety of all Californians.” 

Californians for Safety and Justice Praises Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Proposed Budget for Making Critical Investments in Safety for All California Communities

January 8, 2021

Budget Contains More Than $1 Billion for Treatment and Crime Prevention, including Nearly $115 million in Prop. 47 Savings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2021

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Californians for Safety and Justice on Friday praised Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2021-2022 fiscal year budget for its investments in public safety. By prioritizing investments that will effectively meet the needs of our communities, California can address the underlying drivers of crime and prevent it, and ensure survivors of crime have the resources they need to heal.

The budget proposal released by Newsom Friday includes nearly $115 million in Proposition 47 savings. Each year, the money saved as a result of reduced incarceration from Proposition 47, which was 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 centers to help survivors of crime heal.

The proposed budget also contains a $750 million general fund allocation for competitive grants to counties for the acquisition of physical buildings to house the provision of mental health services, as well as the reallocation of more than $200 million in unused jail bond financing for the purchase or modification of community mental health facilities.

The proposed budget contains more than half a billion dollars for rehabilitative programming for people in prison who will be released, which is a doubling of the investment by the state in rehabilitation since 2012-2013.

Importantly, the budget recommits to shuttering the Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy by September of this year, as well as closing a second prison facility by the end of 2023. The budget reflects anticipated cost savings from the closure of Deuel at over $260 million over the next two fiscal years.

“The proposed budget released today by Gov. Newsom represents a stark departure from the failed ‘tough on crime’ approaches of the past that have never produced true safety or well-being in our communities, and reflects a commitment to pursuing strategies proven to more effectively prevent crime and harm from occurring in the first place,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “The more than $100 billion we’ve needlessly poured into incarceration during the past decade alone has destabilized entire communities and fueled stubbornly-high recidivism rates. We can and must do better by pursuing approaches that science and data clearly show more effectively ensure safety for all Californians.”

For the second consecutive year, the governor’s proposed budget also contains a general fund allocation to the victim compensation fund to ensure it remains solvent and able to provide essential support for survivors of crime without having to rely on increased fines and fees imposed upon Californians by the courts and justice system.

“The resources provided by California’s victim compensation fund are imperative for ensuring that survivors of crime are able to heal,” said Tinisch Hollins, California state director for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “We are deeply appreciative of Gov. Newsom’s leadership and for his continued willingness to make certain that all crime survivors – and especially survivors from those communities most impacted by crime and violence every day – are able to access the assistance and support we need to recover.”

Californians for Safety and Justice Lauds Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Plan to Appoint Civil Rights Champion Shirley Weber as Secretary of State

December 23, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2020

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

OAKLAND, Calif. – Californians for Safety and Justice on Tuesday praised Gov. Gavin Newsom for reportedly planning to appoint Asm. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), the civil rights champion who has been the state legislature’s moral authority for the past eight years, as California’s next Secretary of State.

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

“The appointment of Asm. Weber as the first Black woman Secretary of State in California history marks a historic milestone in California’s ongoing work for justice and equality. During her tenure in the Legislature, Asm. Weber has been a tenacious leader and advocate for those whose voices have been left out or overlooked, and for making sure that everyone is afforded equal opportunity to pursue their dreams. Her appointment is a clear indication that Gov. Newsom is committed to pursuing those same ideals and putting California on the vanguard of justice. Representation matters, and it is a huge victory for all Californians to have Alex Padilla in the U.S. Senate representing a state that is 40 percent Latino, and now the hardest worker in the Legislature as our Secretary of State.”

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.”