We’re thrilled to announce that California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed our 2022 CA policy priorities into law!
“We applaud Governor Newsom for signing a suite of bills that recognizes the dignity and futures of Californians who have experienced incarceration,” said Sam Lewis, Executive Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). ”Ending mass incarceration includes the idea that one should not be held back due to a prior conviction, allowing people to strive towards greatness during reentry.”
AB 2417 (Ting): Youth Bill of Rights
Youth in the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) currently have a Youth Bill of Rights, which explains their rights and protections. But the Division of Juvenile Justice has a plan to close youth prisons transferring jurisdiction to counties – all youth will be held at the county level. Across California, youth held in county lockups do not have a bill of rights. Now, AB2417 expands the Youth Bill of Rights to ensure all incarcerated youth in California know their rights, including timeless access to toilets, clean water, and the ability to speak to an Ombudsman.
“If we wanted water in our room, the staff would tell us to drink from the sink. Those sinks have rust, the water is disgusting, it’s connected to the toilet, and flies are coming out. When youth know their rights, they can speak up and know what is acceptable and what shouldn’t happen.” –Sophia Cristo, ARC Youth Advocate
AB 2417 was championed by Asm. Phil Ting and supported by W. Haywood Burns Institute, California Youth Connection, Equality California, Human Rights Watch, Young Women’s Freedom Center, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, National Center for Youth Law, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Elizabeth Calvin, and the California Association of Student Councils, among others.
SB 731 – (Durazo): Sunset Convictions
SB 731 is the nation’s most comprehensive clean slate effort and will affect countless people across California, broadening employment and housing opportunities to the 2.5 million working-age Californians living with a felony record.
A past felony conviction holds many formerly incarcerated people back and prevents them from obtaining jobs, stable housing, higher-ed opportunities, and much more. Because of a past conviction, many of our members have long periods of unemployment or must settle for low-earning jobs with limited to no benefits. Now because of SB 731, there will be more opportunities to pursue an array of careers with meaningful earning potential.
Most importantly, SB 731 will allow people who were previously convicted of violent or serious felonies and who have demonstrated growth and maturity, the opportunity to finally put their past behind them. In the past, most ARC members have been excluded from these types of reliefs and reforms.
SB 731 was championed by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo and supported by Californians for Safety and Justice, Homeboy Industries, Pillars of the Community, LARRP, All of Us or None, Time for Change Foundation, and A New Way of Life, among others.
AB 2629 – (Santiago): Juvenile Dismissals
Collateral consequences still follow many young people after incarceration, preventing them from being fully able to reach success during reentry. AB 2629 allows formerly incarcerated youth to receive a dismissal, which can open up opportunities to serve in the military as well as expand education and employment chances. AB 2629 was championed by Asm. Miguel Santiago.
AB 1924 (Gipson): Reducing Barriers to Employment
AB 1924 will reduce barriers to employment for those facing formal probation by streamlining the application process for a certificate of rehabilitation. One tool to provide better opportunities for people living with old records is the ability to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation. A certificate of rehabilitation is a discretionary judicial relief that allows a court to find that a person has been rehabilitated and serves as a recommendation that the person be granted a pardon.
AB 1924 was championed by Asm. Mike Gipson and supported by our partners Californians for Safety and Justice, among others.
AB 160 (Budget Committee) – Public Safety Trailer Bill
In 2020, ARC helped pass AB 2147 (Reyes), which provided expungement opportunities to those who served in fire camps while incarcerated. AB 160 expands the eligibility pool of AB 2147 to include those who also served in institutional firehouses.
Today, ARC helps to run the Ventura Training Center (VTC) in partnership with CAL-FIRE, CDCR, and CCC to give formerly incarcerated people advanced training skills as they work towards a career in firefighting Our participants previously served in camps and institutional firehouses.
Those who served in camps have been able to get their records expunged or are in the process of doing so. Thanks to AB 160, those VTC members who have been either waiting or denied because they served at an institutional firehouse will now be able to find relief.
Two of our bills were vetoed by Governor Newsom.
• The Healthy Start Act, AB 2717, was vetoed due to cost concerns. AB 2717 would have expanded the Community Prisoner Mother Program by broadening eligibility and increasing the services offered. AB 2717 would have added a visiting day for new and expecting mothers inside CDCR so they can begin to grow lifelong relationships with their children. This bill was inspired by Norma Cumpian’s story of motherhood inside the walls, as well as other formerly incarcerated mothers at ARC.
• Additionally, SB 1371, a bill to raise wages and justly compensate incarcerated workers, was also vetoed because of long-term costs. We look forward to the day when people working on the inside no longer rely on family to meet their basic needs and can save money for reentry costs, while paying off their restitution.
We are resolved to bringing back these efforts in the future as we continue to bring hope to our members and larger communities.
All these efforts are done in community with partner organizations, legislative champions, allies, and impacted families across California. Our advocacy is rooted in our members’ experience to help uplift incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. We are grateful to our staff and members who helped lead these efforts and remind us that incarcerated and formerly incarcerated voices matter in creating change.