January 8, 2021


Terence Long, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights;, 510-936-0344

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

Oakland, CAIn response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s unveiling of his proposed 2021-22 budget, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights issued the following statements:

Ella Baker Center Executive Director Zach Norris:

“We applaud Governor Newsom for committing to close the Deuel Vocational Institution by September, and committing to close a second state prison next year. We also are encouraged to see relief for low-income families that have been impacted by the pandemic in the 2021-22 budget. Throughout this pandemic, we have seen the impacts of the economic and health crisis fall heaviest on our most marginalized communities. 

While the budget proposes to invest in COVID relief, it lacks significant action needed to dramatically reduce the populations inside California’s overcrowded prisons and jails–including those who are medically high-risk or serving long sentences. With over 150 deaths and over 42,000 cases in California, the virus will continue to rage behind bars where social distancing is impossible. We keep our communities safe by ensuring that those who are most vulnerable receive the necessary resources to live a healthy life. That includes releasing people from prison and reconnecting them with their families.”

Ella Baker Center State Campaigner James King:

“Unfortunately, Governor Newsom’s response to the ongoing crisis within our state prisons remains overwhelmingly insufficient. Any policy that does not account for the severe overcrowding in our prisons, and the thousands of people in county jails waiting to go to prison, will continue to put people who live or work in prisons at unacceptable risk of sickness and death. We agree with public health experts who continue to assert that ending our reliance upon congregate settings is crucial for public health in our state. What the 2021-22 state budget is missing is a plan to address the mechanisms of mass incarceration that are preventing a meaningful response to the pandemic within our prisons.”