ARC empowers and mobilizes system-impacted young people and their families to play a fundamental role in justice reform efforts through leadership development programming, community organizing, and direct policy advocacy. ARC also utilizes storytelling to shift public perception of formerly incarcerated individuals and to promote the importance of investing in this population.
ARC offers regular advocacy trainings which set out to 1) inform our members of the current juvenile justice and re-entry policy landscape, and 2) provide members with tools to share their experiences to advocate for fairer and more humane criminal justice policies.
Advocacy trainings focus on public speaking, persuasive writing, and storytelling. All of ARC’s advocacy trainings are trauma-informed to ensure that members are prepared and supported in sharing their personal testimony.
Following these trainings, ARC works with several local and statewide advocacy organizations to create opportunities for members to lend their voices to justice reform efforts. This work has led to several important improvements in California’s justice system.
2017 Policy Advocacy Priorities
LEGISLATIVE BILLS ARC CO-SPONSORED IN 2017
During this legislative session, ARC is collaborating with several advocacy organizations to provide support with advocacy efforts for the following reform measures:
SB 10/SB 42 (Hertzberg/Bonta) – The California Bail Reform Act will ensure that people are not held in dangerous, overcrowded jails after an arrest simply because they cannot afford to post bail. The effect of this measure will be to ensure that people return to court as required and that the public is protected, while ending the current bail system’s cruel discrimination against low-income Californians and people of color. Click here to learn more.
SB 190 (Lara/Mitchell) – This measure will end the harmful, unlawful, and costly assessment and collection of administrative fees against families with youth in the juvenile system. This bill will foster youth rehabilitation and the reentry of youth into their families and communities. Click here to learn more.
SB 312 (Skinner) – This measure would restore a youth’s ability to seal a juvenile court record involving a past WIC Section 707 (b) listed offense committed at age 14 or older, and therefore allow these Californians to go on to lead productive lives without suffering the negative employment, educational, housing and other economic exclusions and social exclusions. Click here to learn more.
SB 394 (Lara/Mitchell) – This measure would bring California law into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016), and give individuals serving life without parole for crimes they committed as youths under 18 years-old the opportunity to work for parole. Click here to learn more.
SB 395 (Lara/Mitchell) – This measure would safeguard young people’s rights under the United States and California Constitutions by requiring that youth under 18 consult with counsel prior to waiving their Miranda rights. This will preserve youth’s constitutional rights and protects the integrity of our criminal justice system. Click here to learn more.
SB 439 (Lara / Mitchell) – This measure would establish a minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court in California, protecting children under 12 years old from the harms and adverse consequences of justice system involvement and encouraging more effective alternatives to court involvement. Click here to learn more.
SB 620 (Bradford) – This measure would allow a court, in the interest of justice and at the time of sentencing, to strike a sentence enhancement for using or discharging a firearm when a person is convicted for committing a felony, consistent with other enhancements. Click here to learn more.
Legislative Bills Arc Supported in 2017
SB 142 (Beall) – would encourage judges to consider community mental health treatment during sentencing. SB 142 also re-invests savings from reduced prison costs into effective community-based services with incentives to create a positive cycle of effective treatment and reduced crime. Click here to learn more.
SB 143 (Beall) – would allow people confined to a state mental hospital to reenter the community for treatment. By allowing equal access to Proposition 36 (2012) and Proposition 47 (2014), this population would be able to access community mental health centers and other support networks. If the person is found to no longer be a danger to public safety, then community treatment would allow them more treatment options and access to their natural support systems such as family and friends. Click here to learn more.
SB 180 (Mitchell) – would free-up funds for community-based treatment programs and community investment, generally, by repealing the three-year sentence enhancement for prior drug convictions. Click here to learn more.
AB 90 (Weber) – would address accuracy and fairness in the collection and accessing of gang allegations through CalGang and other shared gang databases, including enacting reforms outlined in the 2016 audit of shared gang databases released by the California State Auditor. Click here to learn more.
AB 864 (McCarty) – would allow the Executive Director at the California Conservation Corps (CCC) to consider applications to the CCC from individuals 18-25 years old who are on probation. Click here to learn more.
AB 1008 (McCarty) – would prohibit employers from inquiring into or reviewing a job applicant’s conviction history until after that applicant has received a conditional offer. This bill would also clarify the standards an employer must apply when considering an applicant’s conviction history. Click here to learn more.
AB 1058 (Gipson)– will authorize a waiver of the $46 / unit community college student fee for youth who are younger than 25 years-old and are former wards of the juvenile court and were placed in out-of-home care in connection with that status after reaching 16 years-old. Click here to learn more.
AB 1114 (Garcia) – strengthen the Supervised Population Workforce Training Grant Program established by AB 2060 (V.M. Perez) in 2014. Investing in workforce development opportunities for reentry populations is a critical step towards expanding their access to well-paying jobs and careers, reducing recidivism rates, improving community safety, and generating overall net state savings. AB 1114 makes adjustments to the Supervised Population Workforce Training Program to expand the eligible target population to include people on parole, require applicants to include a partnership with a community based organization that works with the reentry population, authorize multi-year grant allocations, and strengthen the prioritization of work-based learning activities. Click here to learn more.
AB 1308 (Stone)– would require the Board of Parole Hearings to conduct youth offender parole hearings for people sentenced to state prison who committed those specified crimes when they were 25 years of age or younger. This would essentially extend SB 261 from age 23 to 25. Click here to learn more.
AB 1448 (Weber) – which will codify the existing Elderly Parole Program, granting continued and formalized parole consideration to individuals ages 60 and older who have been incarcerated for at least 25 years. Click here to learn more.
Over the past few years, ARC members have shared their experiences, in addition to their insights to policymakers and stakeholders helping build support for several important criminal justice reform measures. The following are accomplishments due to the determination and relentless efforts of our members and partner organizations.
Prop 57, approved with over 65% of the vote on November 8, has the potential to strengthen California’s justice system and increase public safety by expanding rehabilitation in prisons and improving the process by which youth can be tried as adults. Key provisions of the ballot measure include the following:
- Requires judges, rather than prosecutors, to decide whether minors as young as 14 years old should be tried as adults and sent to adult prison.
- Allows persons convicted of a non-violent felony and sentenced to state prison to be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term of their primary offense.
- Grants the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) the authority to award credits earned for good behavior, and rehabilitative or educational achievements.
ASSEMBLY BILL 1276 – BLOOM (D) in 2014
Ensures that young people under the age of 22 at the time they enter prison are less likely be placed on the most dangerous prison yards and more likely to have access to rehabilitative programs and services.
SENATE BILL 260 – HANCOCK (D) in 2013
Allows people who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime, tried as an adult and sentenced to an adult prison sentence to be eligible for Youth Offender Parole Board hearing.
The Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Youth Justice Coalition, and Urban Peace Institute have joined together to voice concern about “voluntary supervision” by the Los Angeles Probation Department over youth who have no prior court or probation involvement. In their report, “WIC 236 – ‘Pre-Probation’ Supervision of Youth of Color With No Prior Court or Probation Involvement,” the youth advocacy organizations argue that supervision by a law enforcement agency, like probation, is not the appropriate response to a demographic of overwhelmingly youth of color who are struggling with mostly school performance problems, like poor grades and attendance.
California’s Welfare and Institutions Code section 236 (WIC 236) is the statute that grants probation departments across the state the authority to intervene, through direct or indirect services, in the lives of any young person, including those who have not been accused of violating the law. It is a practice law enforcement officials believe deters youth delinquency but some community organizations are questioning whether this practice is doing more harm than good.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that law enforcement’s work with low-risk youth can be ineffective or actually serve to “widen the net” – increasing rather than preventing eventual youth involvement with the court, detention, and incarceration systems.
In 2014-15 in Los Angeles County, more than 17,000 youth who had no history of court or probation involvement were labeled “at risk” and being engaged by probation as well as district attorney officials in their schools or communities. The organizations hope to engage other government and community-based stakeholders and county agencies in examining WIC 236 supervision. Ultimately, they argue for shifting resources away from law enforcement entities towards education and community-based interventions that more appropriately serve the needs of youth.
Research has shown that removing Los Angeles County youth from their families and placing them in a foster care or group home setting as a solution to their developmental challenges is ineffective and imposes significant fiscal costs to the county. The educational, emotional and social costs to our youth and their families are even greater. By creating financial incentives to reduce the number of youth placed in out-of-home placement facilities by probation or child welfare in Los Angeles County, the Title IV-E Waiver program presents a tremendous opportunity for the County to invest significantly in improving relationships between youth and their families, and their communities.
This policy brief highlights opportunities presented by the Title IV-E Waiver program to improve the lives of Los Angeles-area youth and their families by allowing the County to redirect funds from out of home placements towards programs and services that improve outcomes for youth and families while youth remain in the home. It further advises the County to place youth and their families at the center of services and supports known to improve the lives of youth and their families through the strategic use of Title IV-E Waivers.