The Ella Baker Center Hosts Human Rights Day Vigil for Jobs Not Jails

Oakland, CA — In honor of Human Rights Day on Wednesday, December 10th, the Ella Baker Center is hosting a vigil for Jobs Not Jails in Oakland.

This vigil is part of our campaign calling on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to put 50% of their public safety budget towards community-based programs and services that prioritize job training, education, healthcare, and restorative justice initiatives.

Far too many Alameda County residents are caught in a cycle of poverty and incarceration. The county’s public safety funds, which primarily serve people convicted of less serious crimes, could be used to help people escape that cycle. Instead the county awards most of the funds to the sheriff, which threatens to repeat the state prison overcrowding crisis on the local level and will not make our communities any safer.

Right now, people here in Oakland and across the country are standing up for the rights of people like Mike Brown and Eric Garner who were killed by police. Discriminatory police practices result in a disproportionate number of people of color becoming caught in the justice system. Alameda County has an opportunity to move funding away from jails and put it toward services that can help formerly incarcerated people get their lives on track and succeed.

During the vigil, we will project a lights display onto the Alameda County Administration building calling for “Jobs Not Jails,” “Books Not Bars,” and “Healthcare Not Handcuffs” to increase awareness of the county’s misplaced priorities, and our demand for human rights for everyone in the county.

This year, the budget proposal put forth for the county recommends giving community-based programs and services less than a third of the public safety funds.

One service provider who is seeking more funding from the county is Andre Wiley, director of The Timelist Group, which is an organization that provides life skills classes and career mentoring for formerly incarcerated people. With funding from the county, Wiley’s organization would be able to provide transitional housing, mental health counseling, a food bank, and an enhanced work apprenticeship program.

Wiley, who was released from prison in May 2012 and benefitted from re-entry services, specifically discussed the need to fund programs that provide transitional housing. “These are people that are really trying to change. They want to get a fresh start, so we should be able to offer them that fresh start,” he said.

The program for the vigil includes singing by Occupella and remarks by faith leaders, including Reverend Jacqueline Duhart from the First Unitarian Church and Reverend Cheryl Ward. Community members who have been impacted by the funding cuts, faith leaders, and re-entry service providers will be available for comment and interview after the vigil.

 

WHEN: Wednesday, December 10th, 5-6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Alameda County Administration Building, 1221 Oak St., Oakland, CA

For more information, please contact Zaineb Mohammed, Communications Manager: Zaineb@ellabakercenter.org, 510-285-8236