January 12, 2022


Ashley Chambers, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights | 510-285-8227

Oakland, CAIn response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s release of his proposed 2022-23 budget, the California Blueprint, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights issued the following statements:

Ella Baker Center Executive Director Zach Norris:

“While we applaud Governor Newsom for providing necessary relief to low-income families through investing in healthcare and affordable childcare, we need to also prioritize divesting from systems that historically place harm and trauma on communities of color. Funding and empowering police, prosecution and punishment does not keep our streets and our families safe. But it overlooks the needs of communities of color and the demands that we have upheld throughout this pandemic to invest in community and safely release people inside our prisons.

Changing the way we prioritize the state’s spending is central to keeping our communities safer. Real Public Safety is investing the state’s $45 billion surplus into community services, mental health resources, restorative justice, jobs for our young people, and alternatives to policing, prosecution and incarceration.”

Ella Baker Center Deputy Director Marlene Sanchez:

“It is beyond time that we reimagine the way we think about public safety, and take action that uplifts the needs and humanity of everyone—our families and community members, including those that are currently incarcerated inside California’s prisons and jails. Across our state prisons, there are 2,848 incarcerated people and 3,947 CDCR staff with active COVID cases today. Instead of returning to policies that fueled mass incarceration in our state, we urge Governor Newsom to continue the important work he started over the last two budgets, by closing additional prisons, and shifting resources back into the communities that need them most. Increasing resources for prosecutors and incarceration does not keep our streets safe. By ignoring people’s basic rights and focusing on the inefficient and ineffective ‘tough on crime’ narrative, more harm is being done to our communities. Our health and safety should be the priority, and we achieve that through continuing the trend of safely reducing our prison population.”