Advancing People-Powered Legislation in Sacramento

Tuesday, April 7th was my fifth day as the new State Field Director here at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Along with many of our allies in the movement against imprisonment here in California, myself and other folks at the Ella Baker Center were up in Sacramento to advocate for a series of important criminal justice bills that were being heard by the Public Safety Committees.

In my new role overseeing state and local campaigns, I have the pleasure of helping move forward a people-powered legislative package designed to advance efforts to move state resources away from locking people up.

The recent passage of Prop 47 serves as a voter mandate for California legislators to stop wasting state resources on locking people up and instead focus on restoring our social safety net. This legislative cycle, advocates have the extra support of public opinion to push smart parole and sentencing reform measures that will continue to reduce the number of people imprisoned in our state.

This is an important moment for us to bolster our demand that state resources be invested in our people and go towards building life affirming programs that we all need to be safe, such as housing, employment, treatment, and services.

The policies that we were advocating for this past Tuesday would do just that. Despite some pretty awful fear mongering from the opposition, all five bills that we were collectively pushing for passed!!

This means that together we are one step closer to getting more credits for people on parole (AB 926, Reinvesting in Reentry) and for individuals participating in programming in state prison (AB 512: Program Credit Incentives for Prisoners). We are one step closer to ending solitary confinement in California’s notoriously violent youth prisons (SB 124: Limiting Solitary Confinement in Juvenile Facilities).

We are one step closer to bringing home more of our elders from prison (SB 224: Elderly Parole Program) and fixing some of the problems with the Alternative Custody program so that moms who are primary caregivers of their children can be reunified in a community-based program (SB 219: Alternative Custody Program).

We are grateful to the bills' authors for their leadership, without which these victories wouldn't have been possible: Senator Mark Leno (SB 124), Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (AB 926), Assemblymember Mark Stone (AB 512), and Senator Carol Liu (SB 219 and SB 224).

Passing the public safety committee is the first hurdle to passing these policies, but over the next few months there will be many more legislative obstacles for us to cross. Stay tuned for ways to move these important issues forward!

I'm really proud to be part of this powerful movement.

Click here to read more about the three Ella Baker Center bills, watch powerful footage from our members as they share their personal experiences with legislators, and learn about our fabulous co-sponsors and other allies.