Based in Oakland, CA, the Ella Baker Center advances racial and economic justice to ensure dignity and opportunity for low income people and people of color. As we navigate the uncertainty and adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ella Baker Center has been fighting for legislation to ensure the safety of our community. We are grateful for the incredible work put in by folks incarcerated who are impacted by these policies, loved ones, and our allies.

Our Co-Sponsored 2020 Bills

SB 144 Families Over Fees Act (Sen. Mitchell) – This bill eliminates many of the administrative fees imposed by the criminal legal system and reduces the suffering caused by court debt. Fees eliminated would include those for drug testing, bookings, arrest, probation, parole supervision, and electronic monitoring. This bill was amended to eliminate some fees, but we still see it as very robust. This bill is on the Governor’s desk.

SB 555 Jail Fair Access and Connection to Support (Sen. Mitchell) – This bill addresses the impact of high-cost markups on families and support networks of people in jail. The bill requires that the items in a county jail canteen are offered for sale at the cost paid to the supplier. In addition, this bill prohibits commissions in telephone and communication service contracts for juvenile facilities and county jails, and requires such contracts to be negotiated and awarded to the lowest cost provider. This bill is now on the Governor’s desk.

AB 2542 California Racial Justice Act (Asm. Kalra) – The Act asserts civil rights in the courtroom by prohibitting the state from using discriminatory means to seek or obtain a conviction or sentence; and it gives courts guidance to address the discrimination we see happening. Current law does not protect against discrimination in the court room, though we know anti-Black, anti-ethnic, and foreign-based biases exist and are not harmless. The Act will give people the ability to challenge racial discrimination against them at their trial or sentencing. This bill is now on the Governor’s desk.

2020 Ballot Measures

California Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative (Proposition 20) – This ballot initiative seeks to roll back advancements gained in Prop 47, Prop 57, and AB 109. This would expand the number of crimes that can be charged as felonies; limit early parole; and create two additional types of crimes – serial crime and organized retail crime. It also would require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors. EBC opposes this initiative.

  • A “yes” vote adds crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted; increases the penalty for certain types of theft, fraud crimes and misdemeanors; and requires DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.
  • A “no” vote opposes the initiative to create new felonies, limit parole, and increase penalties.

California Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative (Proposition 15) – Commonly known as the Schools and Communities First Initiative, this ballot initiative changes the way commercial and industrial properties are taxed, so that they’re taxed on their market value instead of their purchase price. The new revenue – estimated between $6-10 billion – would be divided so that 40% would fund school districts and community colleges, and 60% would go to local governments. EBC supports this initiative.

  • “yes” vote supports taxing commercial and industrial properties based on market value, instead of purchase price (excluding commercial agriculture properties and small businesses), and allocates revenue to local governments and school districts.
  • “no” vote continues taxing these properties below their market rate.

California Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment (Proposition 17) – Formerly ACA 6, this is a constitutional amendment that would allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote in California. Currently, the California Constitution disqualifies people with felonies from voting until their imprisonment and parole are completed. The ballot measure would amend the state constitution to allow people with felonies on parole to vote. EBC supports this initiative.

  • A “yes” vote supports this constitutional amendment to allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote.
  • “no” vote opposes this constitutional amendment, thereby continuing to prohibit people who are on parole for felony convictions from voting.