We advocate for policies, budgets and administrative practices to reduce wasteful spending on incarceration and prioritize investments in communities that make us safer.
Since our founding, we co-authored and co-led the successful Yes on Proposition 47 ballot initiative campaign in 2014 (c4), Yes on Proposition 57 ballot initiative campaign in 2016 (c4) and dozens of legislative and budget campaigns. These efforts have reduced incarceration and increased rehabilitation and investments into community prevention and treatment. We have also advocated for trauma recovery centers — growing them from just 1 to 18 across California.
We focus our statewide advocacy to advance smart safety priorities that reduce wasteful spending on prisons, expand rehabilitation, remove barriers to recovery for crime survivors, and build pathways to successful re-entry for people living with past convictions.
Californians for Safety and Justice’s 2022 Bills
SB 993 (Skinner) Ending Unjust Barriers to Victim Compensation: While California’s victim compensation program is in many ways a national leader, survivors entitled to compensation still face hurdles accessing it. Thousands of claims are denied each year. And, recent analyses have found that the types of compensation eligibility restrictions California has – including conviction-based restrictions, denials for alleged lack of cooperation, and restrictions based on alleged victim contribution to the victimization – contribute to inequitable rates of denials for our state’s most vulnerable populations. Those survivors who do qualify must navigate overwhelming paperwork and restrictions that limit the kinds of resources they are eligible for. Many become so discouraged they opt out altogether. The program also moves slowly, but survivor needs are often urgent. It can take many months for survivors to get assistance from the compensation program. SB 993 will address these barriers to compensation, removing unjust eligibility restrictions and reducing red tape to accessing financial support, so that survivors can get the help they need.
Co-Sponsor: After Innocence, Youth Alive!
SB 1017 (Eggman) Keeping Survivors Housed Act: SB 1017 will strengthen the current eviction protections survivors have under California law. Several gaps in the law leave survivors at risk and unable to access the existing protection. This bill will help ensure that no survivor can be evicted because of acts of abuse or violence committed against them. The bill will:
- Provide a pathway for survivors to stay in their homes, even if the person who caused harm is a tenant who is being evicted for a violent act against the survivor.
- Ensure protections are available to victims of any type of violence and their immediate family members.
- Expand the types of documentation survivors may use to access protections.
- Eliminate a loophole allowing survivors to be evicted if they “allow” the person who caused harm to visit the property.
- Clarify that survivors can use the eviction protection even if the person who committed the violent act is a tenant who no longer lives in the unit.
- Create a way for survivors to take action if their rights to eviction protection or lease termination are violated.
Co-Sponsors: California Partnership to End Domestic Violence; Dr. Beatriz María Solís Policy Institute – Women’s Foundation of California; Family Violence Appellate Project; Western Center on Law and Poverty
SB 1106 (Wiener) Fresh Start Act: In California, people who are convicted of crimes are often ordered to pay restitution and restitution fines. Currently, unpaid restitution and restitution fines can be used as a reason to deny a person’s petition to clear their criminal record–limiting their ability to get housing, employment and other opportunities upon reentry. In practice, current law results in people leaving the criminal justice system being more likely to get trapped by fines and fees than they can get a job to actually pay off those fines and fees. This helps neither the person ordered to pay restitution nor the person who would receive compensation from the payment. Because successful reentry into society for formerly incarcerated people benefits the broader community, SB 1106 ensures that expungement petitions aren’t denied simply due to outstanding restitution debt.
Sponsor: Debt Free Justice Coalition
SB 1178 (Bradford) Proposition 47: Criminal Records Relief: Prop. 47, overwhelmingly passed by the voters in 2014, reclassified six low-level, non-violent felonies as misdemeanors and authorized individuals convicted of qualifying felonies to petition the court to resentence their previous convictions as misdemeanors. Low-level felony records, even for very old convictions, create barriers to housing, employment, educational opportunities and governmental benefits. These obstacles deprive individuals of self-sufficiency, perpetuate cycles of incarceration, and disproportionately impact communities of color. SB 1178 would eliminate the November 2022 time limitation for people convicted of a qualifying Prop. 47 felony to petition the court to have the sentence reduced to a misdemeanor. Reclassifying old felonies to misdemeanors opens many doors that otherwise would remain off-limits – doors to jobs, housing, educational and other opportunities to provide family stability, economic security and self-sufficiency.
Co-Sponsor: Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
SB 1268 (Caballero) Curtis’s Law: SB 1268 will ensure that the immediate family of a deceased minor whose death is investigated by a law enforcement agency receives information about the investigation, including contact information of the investigators, the case number, and information about any property of the victim that is being held.
AB 1720 (Holden) Community Care Facilities: Criminal Background Checks: AB 1720 increases access by qualified individuals with arrest and conviction records to caregiving and similar jobs governed by the California Department of Social Services (DSS). This bill will reduce application barriers for people with a conviction history seeking community care licensure from the DSS. AB 1720 streamlines the licensure process for those that have been convicted of a crime to ensure that an unrelated prior conviction does not prohibit a qualified, rehabilitated person from securing employment. Specifically, the bill requires DSS to grant a simplified criminal record exemption if the individual is qualified.
Co-Sponsor: Occupational Licensing Coalition
AB 1924 (Gipson) Certificate of Rehabilitation: Under current law, the process for petitioning for a certificate of rehabilitation (COR) is more burdensome for people convicted of less serious offenses (those resulting in sentences of probation) than those which a conviction resulted in prison sentences. This bill would make it easier for those individuals to begin the process of applying for a COR. A successful petition for a COR provides several benefits: it can enhance licensing considerations by a state board; it can serve as an official document to demonstrate a person’s rehabilitation to enhance employment possibilities; and most importantly it serves as an application for a full pardon.
Co-Sponsor: Anti-Recidivism Coalition
AB 1949 (Low) Bereavement Leave: All workers deserve the right to take time off to grieve the loss of a loved one. AB 1949 will allow workers to take unpaid bereavement leave when a close family member dies. Under current law, most workers in California have no right to bereavement leave — paid or unpaid — when a close family member dies. Thanks to legislation Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice sponsored in 2020, family members of homicide victims can take time off to access victim services or deal with legal issues. But employees who lose a family member — whether to homicide, illness, or any other reason — still do not have the right to take time off to make funeral arrangements or simply to grieve. AB 1949 would guarantee workers of employers with 5 or more employees can take at least 5-days of unpaid bereavement leave. It would also make sure that workers could use other available paid leave (sick, vacation, personal days) for bereavement.
Co-Sponsors: California Employment Lawyers Association; Legal Aid at Work; Equal Rights Advocates
AB 2435 (Lee) Jury instructions: lesser-related offenses: This bill will restore fairness and due process in our criminal legal system by permitting defendants in a criminal case to present to the jury lesser “related” offenses as an alternative to the underlying charge. This reform, which was in law for more than a decade in California, will help ensure that defendants are properly charged based on the facts of the case, and that they receive a just trial.
Co-Sponsors: California Public Defenders Association; California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
Californians for Safety and Justice’s Two Year Bills
SB 262 (Hertzberg) Bail: SB 262 creates a more fair pretrial justice system in California by:
- Requiring the Judicial Council to establish a statewide bail schedule after soliciting input from stakeholders and experts;
- Codifying and expanding upon a recent California Supreme Court decision to ensure the accused do not remain in custody simply because they cannot afford to pay bail
- Ensuring the accused do not assume any costs of court-imposed release conditions; and,
- Requiring bail companies to refund the premiums they receive from defendants who aren’t charged, have their case dismissed or make all of their required court appearances.
Co-Sponsors: Anti-Recidivism Coalition; Western Center on Law and Poverty
SB 299 (Leyva) Equal Access for Victims of Police Violence: SB 299 is critically important, as it ensures that more survivors receive the support needed to address their trauma, regardless of who caused that harm. Survivors of police violence and those who have lost a loved one to murder should not have to overcome unjust barriers to compensation. Ultimately, this bill will improve access to this crucial program for survivors. SB 299 Would do the Following:
- Recognize victims who are seriously injured or killed by police and their loved ones as victims eligible for compensation, regardless of whether the officer is charged.
- For victims of police violence and families of homicide victims, end compensation denials that blame the victim for their own injury or death in most cases.
- For victims of police violence and families of homicide victims, end denials based on noncooperation with law enforcement.
Co-Sponsors: California State Controller Betty Yee; Prosecutors Alliance of California; San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin; Youth ALIVE!
SB 731 (Durazo) Sunsets: Nationally, an estimated 70 million people—nearly one in three adults, and 8 million people in California alone— have a past arrest or conviction on their record. California maintains an individual’s conviction records until that person reaches 100 years of age. Preventing people with an old conviction record from ever being able to regain full citizenship status even after fully completing their sentence and paying their debts makes us all less safe, undermines the strength of our state’s economy, destabilizes families and entire communities and is at odds with California’s core values of justice and fairness. SB 731 proposes a structured approach to expanding arrest and conviction record relief.
Co-Sponsors: Anti-Recidivism Coalition; A New Way of Life; A Time for Change Foundation; Homeboy Industries; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership; Pillars of the Community