Governor Gavin Newsom Signs Criminal Justice Legislation Into Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 1, 2020

Contact: Nicholas Reiner, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), (213) 607-2583, nreiner@antirecidivism.org

Governor Gavin Newsom Signs Criminal Justice Legislation Into Law

The reforms include protecting youth in police custody and pairing an oversight plan with the closure of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). 

SACRAMENTO, CA –  Governor Gavin Newsom signed several criminal justice bills into law yesterday. Most notably, the bills the Governor signed will protect youth in police custody (SB 203) and pair oversight and accountability with the closure of the Department of Juvenile Justice (SB 823). 

“We applaud Governor Newsom for signing a suite of bills that enacts further positive change to our criminal justice system,” said Sam Lewis, Executive Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). “By recognizing the unique vulnerability of children and by choosing to close DJJ the right way,  our California leadership continues to uphold the humanity of those who have experienced or are experiencing incarceration.”

During a year that has been especially difficult for our community members both inside and outside of correctional facilities, we commend Governor Newsom for signing the following bills into law. We commend the legislators who championed and supported the legislation, and thank our  community partners who worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure their passage. We are grateful to our formerly incarcerated members, whose experience, wisdom, and advocacy played an enormous role in the advancement of these reforms. This legislative season, ARC members participated in nearly 20 advocacy meetings with state legislators, gave testimony at more than six legislative hearings, and spent countless hours brainstorming and discussing these reforms at our weekly advocacy trainings. 

2020 LEGISLATION SIGNED INTO LAW

  • SB 203 (Bradford) – Protecting Youth in Police Custody: The previous law required, until January 1, 2025,  youth 15 years of age or younger consult with legal counsel before waiving their Miranda rights. The new law applies these protections to youth 17 years of age or younger and indefinitely extends their operation. By allowing our youth to understand their rights, we can ensure the outcomes of interrogations are just and lawful, creating greater trust, accountability, and due process for all youth. 

In a powerful testimony before the CA Assembly Public Safety committee, ARC Board member, Jerome Dixon recalled the 25-hour police interrogation at 17 years old that resulted in a false confession and 21 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. 

“The police had a story about what happened and they wanted me to put myself in it,” Dixon said. “By hour 15 of questioning I was so exhausted I couldn’t tell you if it was night or day. By hour 21, I just wanted to go home to my family. I told the officers what they wanted to hear. No young person should make an uninformed legal decision, one that could cost 20 years of his life.” 

SB 203 was authored by Sen. Steven Bradford and co-sponsored by the Burns Institute, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), #cut50, Silicon Valley De-Bug, Healing Dialogue and Action, Human Rights Watch, National Center for Youth Law, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center (PJDC), and Re:Store Justice.

 

  • SB 823 – Alternative Trailer Bill on DJJ Closure Inclusive of Oversight, Accountability and Safeguards: This alternative trailer bill will authorize the creation of an Office of Youth Justice (OYJ) within Health and Human Services to provide leadership, oversight, and accountability for Youth Justice. Under the Alternative proposal, the Office of Youth Justice (OYJ) will be located in the state’s Health and Human Services Agency – an agency that is a better fit for moving the state toward a health and youth development orientation, as well as providing proximity to finding streams that could be leveraged to pay for services to youth. 

 

Realignment of Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) cases to the counties and forward movement of youth justice will not be successful without the creation of this agency, which will accompany the closure of DJJ. 

“Being able to stay in a juvenile facility allowed me to reconcile the harm I caused and trauma I experienced in a developmentally appropriate setting,” said ARC Advocacy Coordinator Miguel Garcia. “I would not have been able to grow into the person I am today had I served time in an adult facility as a juvenile.” 

SB 823 was supported by the California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice, and its member organizations. 

 

Earlier this September, Governor Newsom also signed the following two ARC-supported bills into law. 

  • AB 1869 – Families Over Fees – Debt Free Justice – Adult Criminal Justice Fee Repeal in the FY 2020-21 Budget: The FY 2020-2021 Budget Trailer Bill repeals 23 administrative criminal justice fees, including probation supervision fees, and provides relief to counties to cover the cost of revenue lost as a result of the repeal. The law will end the assessment and collection of many fees imposed against people in the criminal system. By eliminating these fees, we believe California would dramatically reduce the suffering caused by court-ordered debt and enhance the economic security of system-involved populations, taking the first step towards ushering in an era of more just criminal policies that do not rely on stripping wealth from Black and Brown communities.

AB 1869 was championed by Sen. Holly Mitchell and supported by A New Way of Life, ACLU of California, East Bay Community Law Center, Ella Baker Center, Homeboy Industries, Insight Center for Community Economic Development, PolicyLink, San Francisco Financial Justice Project, San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Youth Justice Coalition,  Legal Services for Prisoners with Children/All of Us or None, and the Debt Free Justice California coalition, among others.

 

  • AB 2147 (Reyes) – Expedited Expungement for Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters: This law grants the courts judicial discretion to give an opportunity to formerly incarcerated people who have successfully participated in fire camp programs while incarcerated and deemed qualified to “cut line” to apply for expungement upon release. This law was much needed, given the difficult path it takes for a formerly incarcerated person who was a grade 1 qualified (meaning they were qualified to cut line and trained under CAL Fire or a local county fire agency) to obtain an EMT license. The expedited expungement also opens a pathway for individuals to apply for other licenses, outside the EMT. Strengthening opportunities for those who have devoted themselves to public service will reduce recidivism and instill hope for these individuals. 

“AB 2147 clearing the CA Legislature affirms the just idea that people who fought fires while incarcerated are worthy of opportunities to serve their communities while free,” said Esteban Nuñez, Director of Advocacy at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). “We thank Assemblymember Reyes for her relentless devotion to finding a solution to the longstanding barriers that otherwise prevent formerly incarcerated people from becoming EMT certified. Many ARC members, including those training at Ventura Training Center (VTC), have risked their lives to combat fires and we look forward to the implementation of AB 2147.” 

AB 2147 was championed by Assemblymember Eloise Reyes and supported by #cut50, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, California Department of Insurance, Californians for Safety and Justice, California League of Conservation Voters, California Public Defenders Association, Center for Employment Opportunities, Drug Policy Alliance, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Initiate Justice, National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter, San Francisco Public Defender, and Smart Justice California, among others.

We are grateful to advocates, partners, legislators and the Governor who contributed to a successful advocacy season. As we recognize and celebrate our successes this year, we still recognize the journey that lies ahead. We will continue to work to improve our criminal justice system into one that is equitable and recognizes the humanity of those who come before it. 

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Statement from Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) on Change of Leadership at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)

On behalf of the 1,600 ARC members throughout the state of California and thousands of our community members still incarcerated in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), we thank outgoing Secretary of Corrections Ralph Diaz for his service and devotion to rehabilitation of incarcerated people. 

We are grateful for Secretary Diaz’s commitment to reforming and improving the current correctional system. During his tenure, we have watched rehabilitative programming increase throughout the system and the number of people in custody decrease. His dedication to reforming our system has been demonstrated through the increase of programming led by formerly incarcerated people in various prisons and in his recent use of the 1170(d) provision, which allowed many of our community members to come home due to recall of their sentences

In welcoming the appointment of Kathleen Allison to CDCR Secretary, we look forward to her furthering Secretary Diaz’s commitment to rehabilitation and decreasing the number of people incarcerated in the state of California, so that all Californians, including those incarcerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, can feel safe and thrive. 

$30 Million Public-Private Partnership Launched to Support Returning Citizens, as California Urgently Reduces Prison Populations to Curb Impact of COVID-19

Philanthropies and nonprofits partner with the State of California and Governor Gavin Newsom to provide much-needed reentry services 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (August 27, 2020) — Today, as COVID-19 spreads through prisons and jails, philanthropies and nonprofits joined the State of California and Governor Gavin Newsom to announce “Returning Home Well”,  a new public-private partnership that provides essential services — like housing, health care, treatment, transportation, direct assistance, and employment support — for Californians returning home from prison after July 1, 2020. These are individuals that have either met their natural release date or are being released on an expedited timeline due to COVID-19. The State announced an initial commitment of $15 million, which will be matched by philanthropic contributions for a total goal of $30 million. 

“In these unprecedented times, we are committed to providing essential services to those who are returning home to their families and communities,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “It is imperative to our public health and public safety, and it is a testament to the generosity of spirit that runs so deep across our state, that so many of our California-based philanthropies and nonprofit partners are stepping up to help provide these critical supports.”

“We applaud Governor Newsom for investing in this long-needed infrastructure to help keep people and families safe during and after the pandemic,” said Jay Jordan, Executive Director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “Supporting reentry services for people coming home is a well-researched and proveand n model for reducing recidivism and helping people achieve success in their journey home.”

In recent months, COVID-19 cases have risen dramatically among California’s prison population. As in other confined spaces, risk of infection — among those incarcerated and prison staff — is extremely high. In response, the State of California has taken important, life-saving steps to expedite the release of over 5,000 individuals who were already on track to go home, all with less than a year left to serve. However, those returning are often left without essential services that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and its economic fallout. This new public-private partnership between several state departments, philanthropy, and frontline reentry services providers ensures that people have the support they need for a safe, healthy, and successful reintegration.

“We’re proud to support a public-private partnership that asserts the need for justice reform with a racial equity lens”, said Dr. Robert K. Ross, MD, President and CEO of The California Endowment. “We must strive for a justice system that focuses on health care and support services as the first options, instead of on the approach of incarceration which has failed so many. Our California communities need and deserve to thrive in a healthy environment free from trauma.”

“People impacted by the justice system are profoundly and disproportionately at risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19-related illnesses,” added Dr. Priscilla Chan, Co-Founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “We not only need to reduce our prison population, we also need to provide significant and ongoing support to returning citizens so they, their families, and communities can stay safe and thrive over the long-term.”

Recently, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation projected that a large percentage of individuals set to come home will have the need for housing assistance and coordination of post-release services. Rates of homelessness among regular releases have risen from a low of 13 percent last August to 15.5 percent in August 2020, and formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public. This makes the need for reentry support in the pandemic environment even more critical.

“CDCR understands how vitally important it is to expand reentry programs for the incarcerated population returning to their communities,” CDCR Director of Division of Rehabilitative Programs Brant Choate said. “Ensuring formerly incarcerated persons have the housing and tools they need to focus on living a better life when they get out are key to successful community transition, good public safety, and ultimately help save taxpayer dollars.”

Across California, hundreds of community-based organizations — like A New Way of Life, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Center for Employment Opportunities, Homeboy Industries, HealthRIGHT 360, WestCare California, and more — are working tirelessly to provide assistance across California. With a $15 million commitment from Governor Newsom and funding from private philanthropy, resources are going to organizations providing transportation home from prison, quarantine housing, emergency supportive housing, residential treatment, access to health care, employment services, direct assistance, and more. Amity Foundation is serving as the hub for housing and services delivered by a network of frontline organizations across the state.

“Robust reentry services ensures our community members coming home from prison during this pandemic have real chances to thrive,” said Sam Lewis, Executive Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). “We are grateful to Governor Newsom and our philanthropic and nonprofit partners for recognizing the resilience of our community members who we welcome home.” 

“Over the last four months, we have seen the impact that safe housing, job training, and other reentry services can have for returning citizens,” said Sam Schaeffer, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Employment Opportunities. “Despite the retracting economy, we’ve seen people thrive when given real, meaningful support. That’s what this partnership is about — giving people a strong foundation to stand on coming out of one of the most challenging periods of their lives.

Over $26 million of the $30 million goal has been committed and services are already being provided to returning citizens. Foundations and individual donors aligning funding for this effort include the Meadow Fund, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Rosenberg Foundation, The California Endowment, Heising-Simons Foundation, Future Justice Fund, Art for Justice Fund, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The California Wellness Foundation, Ford Foundation, Agnes Gund, and Kaitlyn & Mike Krieger.

“This moment requires bold leadership, and we thank Governor Newsom and our partners in philanthropy for joining together to support returning citizens in reclaiming their lives,” said Tim Silard, President of the Rosenberg Foundation. “Reentry supports are proven and critical to helping people reintegrate back into our communities.”

“Expediting release is necessary, but so is ensuring that services are available in a way that supports those returning home to achieve successful outcomes,” said Doug Bond, CEO of the Amity Foundation. “Supporting this type of service is an essential piece of a much broader, long-term public health and social progress solution.”

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About Amity Foundation

Amity Foundation is dedicated to the inclusion and habilitation of people marginalized by addiction, trauma, criminality, incarceration, poverty, racism, sexism, homelessness and violence. We strive to improve health, and promote environmental, social and economic justice. Amity is committed to research, development, implementation and dissemination of information regarding community building. For more information please visit www.amityfdn.org

About Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) works to end mass incarceration in California. To ensure our communities are safe, healthy, and whole, ARC empowers formerly and currently incarcerated people to thrive by providing a support network, comprehensive reentry services, and opportunities to advocate for policy change. Through our grassroots policy advocacy, we are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system so that it is more just and equitable for all people. For more information, visit antirecidivism.org

 

CONTACT: 

Robin Rettmer, Amity Foundation (RRettmer@amityfdn.org)

Nicholas Reiner, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (nreiner@antirecidivism.org)

Statement from Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) on killing of George Floyd

Our community is filled with alternating rage and sadness for the family of George Floyd in the wake of his brazen killing by Minneapolis police. We stand in solidarity and protest with people who are victims of state violence. At ARC, we believe communities and individuals are stronger when they are safe, healthy, and whole. Further, we see clearly how the interlocking systems of white supremacy and criminal justice deem some lives more valuable than others, in the wake of the recent deaths of #AhmaudArbery and #BreonnaTaylor.

George Floyd was killed in part because collectively our society believes black lives can be discarded. It’s what we see in the carceral systems we fight to change every day. The same society that authorizes police violence against black people is also responsible for Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) sentences, and prisons that dehumanize people day in and day out for years. This same society is responsible for extreme sentencing laws, gang enhancements, and a prison system that prioritizes punishment and family separation over rehabilitation.

It must be noted that if George Floyd was not brazenly killed in broad daylight, he would have been taken to a jail where, in our present time, he would have been at significant risk for COVID-19, other ill-treatment, and further dehumanization. He would have had his life upended like many members of our community do every day as they come into contact with systems that treat particular communities as entirely worthy of being discarded. Mr. Floyd’s life should not have ended in the horrific manner it did. The alternative, jail confinement, would have also been tragic. The stories of those who are killed by police violence and those who have been incarcerated both reflect the way society has chosen to respond to the needs of communities of color.

It is incumbent upon us, whether as individuals or members of community-based organizations, to radically reimagine our society as one that extends to all the opportunity to live dignified lives, and that strives to find ways to meet the needs of communities of color, rather than new ways to penalize them. In America, this freedom and justice work is local, and so we encourage you to support the organizations on the ground in Minneapolis fighting systems that oppress our people. Please follow and support the work to dismantle systems in Minneapolis, groups like Black Visions Collective and Minnesota Freedom Fund. You might also consider donating to the the George Floyd Memorial Fund, created by his family.

While Minneapolis was home to George Floyd, in Los Angeles our partners like Black Lives Matter-LA and S.T.O.P. Police Violence Statewide Coalition are fighting the same struggle in the names of Wakeisha Wilson, Eric Rivera, Charley Keunang, AJ Weber, and too many others.

In LA, ARC mobilizes with the #CheckTheSheriff Coalition, alongside our community partners, where we call for real transparency, accountability, and community oversight of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and call for justice and resources for families and persons harmed by deputies.

No one should have their loved ones stolen from them. We must dismantle this racist system and replace it with one that accepts all of us equally and in which the senseless killing of people of color by the state—whether at the hands of the police or the carceral system—has come to an end.  In the meantime, we must continue to demand that our system holds those in power accountable for wrongdoing. We will continue the grassroots fight for our people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and those coming home from incarceration because #WeMatterToo and our future is freedom.

#BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #WeMatterToo

ARC Virtual Fireside Chat – March 20th

Join Executive Director, Sam Lewis, and other ARC leaders this Friday at 12:00pm PT for our first-ever Virtual Fireside Chat.

You’ll hear from speakers who themselves have been incarcerated during a lockdown, who know firsthand what some of our most vulnerable community members are experiencing right now.

We will discuss what ARC is doing to keep our community members (including those who are currently incarcerated), staff, and allies healthy during the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ll also share with you the advocacy work we are engaged in to ensure that our brothers and sisters on the inside are safe and treated with compassion during this time.

Tentative agenda:

  • Welcome
    Sam Lewis, Executive Director
  • Reentry and Inside Programs Update
    Jacob Brevard, Director of Inside Programs
    Norma Cumpian, Manager, Women and Non-Binary Services
    Robert Chavez, Inside Programs Coordinator
  • Q & A
    Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions.

To RSVP for the virtual fireside chat and add it to your calendar, please click here. The link and instructions for access will be emailed to you.

We look forward to convening online with you this Friday, March 20th, at 12pm!

Read if you were incarcerated at Lynwood (CRDF) Between 2008-2015

Hello ARC Community,

Please read the following LA Times story about the record settlement for thousands of women humiliated during strip searches in LA County’s Women’s Jail. Please also see below if you might have been impacted by this settlement.

If you were incarcerated at Lynwood (CRDF) and have questions about the class action settlement for strip searches, please reach out to Lindsay Battles, one of the attorneys handling the case. You can send her a friend request and she will add you to a private Facebook group for this case. You can also call (626) 844-7660.

VERY IMPORTANT: If you were strip searched between 3/2008 and 1/2015, you should also go to www.lynwoodstripsearch.com to register your contact information. This is the case website.  Registering your contact information will help ensure that you receive class notice and have the opportunity to file a claim.  

ARC Announces Sam Lewis As Next Executive Director

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) has selected Sam Lewis as its next Executive Director.

Sam is an ARC member and Director of Inside Programs, a first-of-its kind initiative that he built from scratch. A former life prisoner himself, Sam oversees our Hope & Redemption Team (HART), nine former lifers who go back into California state prisons to provide hope, to demonstrate that redemption is achievable, and to prepare participants for successful reentry into our communities. His work on the HART team exemplifies what’s best about ARC: our desire to reach and walk with those who have been most marginalized by society.

Sam previously worked with Friends Outside Los Angeles County (FOLA) as Job Specialist, Case Manager, Employment Programs Supervisor, and Project Director, roles that reinforced his commitment to creating opportunities for formerly incarcerated men and women as they transition back into society. In 2018, Sam was the recipient of a Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award and an Uncommon Law Uncommon Heroes award.

We are confident that Sam brings both the professional and life experience needed in this important leadership role and within the ARC community. We believe that Sam’s promotion to Executive Director is a victory for all ARC members and allies committed to developing leadership among those most impacted by the system.

As we celebrate Sam’s promotion, we want to thank Shaka Senghor for his great contributions to the ARC community during his tenure as Executive Director. Shaka launched ARC Creatives, a program that will continue to grow as an engine for cultural change in the criminal justice reform movement and beyond. We are grateful for Shaka’s vision and leadership at ARC.

Thank you to our community for your patience, support, and partnership in this transition—and we look forward to providing many opportunities for you to see Sam’s transformative work in action.

Sincerely yours,

Charity Chandler-Cole, Board Chair

Scott Budnick, Founder

NFL Selects ARC As Recipient of Social Justice Grant, Part of #InspireChange Platform

As part of its ongoing Inspire Change platform, the National Football League today announced that eight social justice organizations are receiving grants, as approved by the joint NFL owner-player working group. ARC is one of the organizations receiving a grant.

The grants, which total nearly $2 million, are part of a $20 million commitment from the NFL and its teams to social justice organizations during the 2018 calendar year. The $20 million is comprised of grants to social justice organizations from the NFL Foundation, social justice grants approved by the NFL owners-players working group, team and player contributions, and an ongoing financial commitment to the Players Coalition.

NFL teams also continue to engage directly with their communities on social justice matters with hundreds of events and millions of dollars in funding for various social justice organizations.

This round of funding will be awarded to the following organizations, with a focus on education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform:

  • Alliance for Safety and Justice: Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states by reducing incarceration and barriers for people living with a past conviction, advancing policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, and expanding constituencies and support for justice reform.
  • Anti-Recidivism Coalition: ARC advocates for transformational criminal justice reform, empowers people to achieve their dreams, and supports people as they make their way back into society.
  • Campaign for Black Male Achievement: The CBMA is a national membership network that seeks to ensure the growth, sustainability, and impact of leaders and organizations committed to improving the life outcomes of Black men and boys.
  • Civil Rights Corps: Civil Rights Corps are leaders in landmark litigation and high-impact advocacy that empowers communities to change the unjust legal system.
  • Gideon’s Promise: Gideon’s Promise is building a public defender movement to amplify the voice of impacted communities and transform criminal justice.
  • NAF: NAF solves some of the biggest challenges facing education and the workforce by bringing education, business, and community leaders together to transform the high school experience for students in underserved communities nationwide.
  • Vera Institute of Justice: The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent studying problems, testing solutions, harnessing the power of evidence, and driving public debate to urgently build justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities.
  • VOTE: By centering the voices, expertise, and experiences of formerly incarcerated leaders, VOTE helps the people most impacted by mass incarceration create a pathway to change.Working together with the Players Coalition, the NFL continues to support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity.  Other organizations receiving NFL Social Justice grants thus far include Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), Dream CorpsOperation HOPEand the UNCF (United Negro College Fund).During the March 2018 Annual Meeting, team owners voted to create 32 club/player matching social justice funds. As a result of these collaborative efforts, NFL teams and players raised an additional $10 million to be directed to social justice organizations.For more information on the joint work between players, teams and the league office on social justice, please visit www.nfl.com/inspirechange.

Ventura Training Center (VTC) Inaugural Class Graduates

Congratulations to the graduates of Ventura Training Center’s first class (01-19)! We are so proud of all your work and accomplishments! Thanks to our partners CALFIRE, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and California Conservation Corps (CCC) for leading this innovative venture to train and develop participants for careers in firefighting, emergency response, and resource conservation.

Thank you to all our ARC staff and support at VTC. We see here the power of giving people opportunities and we know how much they can give in service of their communities. As graduate Joseph Whalin said on behalf of his class, “let the bridges we’ve burned light the path we follow.” Not tethered to the past, all eyes on the future!

 

Read on Medium: Interview with Nicole Jeong, Reentry Attorney, Root & Rebound

Nicole Jeong is Root & Rebound’s Reentry Attorney and Manager of Southern California Partnerships. As a result of this partnership, it is our pleasure to have Nicole in our office to provide legal aid to ARC members as they navigate the many barriers they face post-incarceration. Shaka Senghor, Executive Director of ARC, spoke with Nicole about her work. Read the full piece on our Medium site: interview with Nicole Jeong.