ARC empowers and mobilizes system-impacted people and their families to play a fundamental role in justice reform efforts through leadership development programming, storytelling, community organizing, and direct policy advocacy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our policy team has been working from home, but we continue to meet with members, partners, and legislators, and hold our weekly policy trainings over the internet. We have also remained in close conversation with our partners, the CDCR, and the Governor’s office to advocate for the needs of incarcerated people and their families during this pandemic, from early release to personal protection gear. Our other policy priorities are listed below. As always, please feel free to write the policy team with any questions or thoughts (make sure to write “ARC POLICY TEAM” on the envelope, and please be patient as it takes longer for mail to reach us as we are rarely in the office. Stay safe and healthy– we are thinking of you.
CA BALLOT INITIATIVES
Free the Vote Initiative (SUPPORT): This constitutional amendment will restore the right to vote to people on parole. Nearly 50,000 Californians on parole are working, going to school, paying taxes, and raising families. Stripping them of the right to vote is a form of voter suppression that is deeply out of step with our values, and we’re hoping to rectify that injustice through this reform.
California Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum (SUPPORT): This initiative seeks to uphold Senate Bill 10, which was passed in the California legislature last year and would discontinue the practice of bail and instead rely on risk assessment tools to determine if someone should be released from custody pre-trial. Pre-trial detention can have lasting negative consequences in all areas of a person’s life. No one should have to face these hardships simply due to their ability to pay bail.
Keep California Safe Initiative (OPPOSE): ARC is OPPOSED to this ballot measure. The Keep California Safe Act would roll back Propositions 47 and 57, which are two of our past successes. Propositions 47 and 57 have made it possible for many ARC members to obtain early release and return home with degrees, certificates, and life skills to help them thrive as leaders in their communities. Despite the success of these reforms, this 2020 ballot measure is threatening to roll them back. ARC is strongly opposed to this initiative and intends to highlight the positive impact of these reforms on our community and on California as a whole, through storytelling and research.
2020 LEGISLATIVE REFORMS (Co-Sponsor)
SB 1111: This bill would reduce the number of transition-age youth (age 18 through 20 years old) being transferred to adult jails from their local juvenile facilities. In doing so, it will ensure that they continue to progress in their education, have access to treatment, and participate in age-appropriate activities while they wait for their cases to be resolved. Transferring a young person to adult jail places them at risk of physical and psychological harm and deprives them of developmentally appropriate services needed to successfully rehabilitate and should be avoided.
AB 2342: ARC policy is continuing our work on reforming parole to be more responsive to the needs of our members. This year, we will introduce a bill that will incentivize Californians on parole to meet educational goals and participate in rehabilitation programs beyond parole requirements. Essentially, individuals on parole can have their time on parole reduced by achieving certain educational and rehabilitative milestones.
AB 1007: This bill concerns a 150 Million Dollar funding reallocations under the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA). It hopes to direct the bulk of that funding to community-based organizations to help support system-impacted youth.
LONGER TERM STATE-LEVEL CAMPAIGNS
Prison Wages: We are currently working on SCR 69, a resolution acknowledging that incarcerated people are drastically underpaid for their labor. Their earned wages don’t allow them to fulfill financial obligations, such as restitution, fines, fees, and child support. A resolution does not mean that there will be any legislative changes on this issue this year. However, it does mean that the California legislature recognizes that this is a problem and plans on working to fix it in the near future. We are laying the groundwork for this resolution to become a bill within the next couple of years.
Life without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) Sentences: The purpose of this campaign is to end LWOP sentences down the road. ARC and partners have successfully advocated for many historic reforms to California’s justice system, including the elimination of Life without Parole (LWOP) for people who were convicted of crimes committed when they were under the age of 18. These successes have played a role in changing public opinion and policymaker perspectives on LWOP. We now intend to gain the public support or political will necessary to pass a bill or ballot measure. Our focus is on three things: creating communications products, establishing a data- collection mechanism, and building the leadership capacity of released former LWOPs. The last involves two aspects: the creation of a national leadership council as well as a leadership training program. This is in partnership with Human Rights Watch.