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Sneaking a $2 Billion Jail Construction Project into a Jail Diversion Vote

On August 11th the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to spend upwards of $2 billion to build two new jail facilities. The vote was illegal. According to the Brown Act, all public meetings require items to be publicly placed on the agenda at least 72 hours before the meeting, not read into the agenda the day of.

Many of us attended the board meeting that morning with hopes of celebrating a motion – spearheaded by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Kuehl – to secure $100 million for an Office of Diversion and diversion infrastructure such as supportive housing. This would have been a victory in the wake of the previous meeting where both Supervisor Knabe and District Attorney Jackie Lacey felt the need to emphasize that jail diversion is not jail reduction. The ongoing, and at times compulsive, narrative that jail alternatives won’t reduce the jail population is frustrating and ungrounded. Sneaking a $2 billion jail construction project into a jail diversion vote shows us that this logic is not only faulty, it’s compulsive.

Last week Mike Antonovich introduced a motion to re-vote on the issue of an Office of Diversion and jail construction. This swift move to correct the Brown Act violation was appropriately initiated by Supervisor Antonovich as he kicked off the illegal August 11th vote by reading in his jail construction proposal. The motion to vote on the issues again was approved while there are still plenty of unanswered questions. For example:


1. How much will these proposed facilities actually cost the county?

2. A report by Health Management Associates stated that the jail population would grow beyond current capacity if the county did nothing. Since the county is funding diversion efforts and since the sheriff’s department has received a state grant to reduce the county jail population by 15%, why not maximize this momentum and build community alternatives?

3. Why is 50% of the jail population being held on exuberant bail schedules when they could be subject to a risk-based pre-trial release program?

4. Why is the county considering building a women’s jail when jails have only produced medical negligence and abuse for people housed in women’s facilities?

These are just a few of the unanswered questions that stain any talk of jail construction.


On September 1st we will converge again on the Hall of Administration where the supervisors will again vote. As of now the county is moving forward with these two issues as one agenda item. Both diversion and jail construction should be dealt with separately but follow one single agenda: optimize diversion efforts for Black and Brown people, women, and those with mental health conditions as a long term jail reduction strategy.

For more info on this please click to watch our latest video and read our new report on the women’s jail.

AB 953: Imagining an Existence Without Racial Profiling

Can You Imagine an Existence Without Racial Profiling?
With Assembly Bill 953 (Preventing Racial Profiling by Law Enforcement), We Can.

Imagine that harassment and oppression are a routine part of your life. That on a regular basis, you, your loved ones, and your community are consistently targeted by police because of your race or identity. Imagine the trauma caused by the knowledge that no one was keeping track of when this happened and that the police were not being held accountable for their actions.

Many communities in California do not have to imagine this at all. Many people of color, whether cis gender, transgender, or gender non-conforming adults, and children, are constantly targeted by law enforcement because of their race or identity even when there is NO evidence of criminal activity. A 2015 report by a police department in California found that blacks were stopped twice as often as their driving age demographic representation, and that blacks and Latinos were searched at three and two times the rate of whites, respectively.

For these communities racial and identity profiling, though currently illegal, is a routine part of their reality and is the entry way to mass incarceration, and other disparities.

Now, imagine an existence where police are held accountable for their actions, and where we can get basic information about what police are up to. That when police are trained, this training takes into account that the officer may have biases about race and identity that impact how they treat you and your community. Imagine if there were a group of people, an—advisory council, so to speak,—whose job it were to monitor how the police are interacting with your community with the goal of protecting you against racial profiling. Imagine that each and every time the police, stop, search, or shoot someone, it were reported or somehow captured.

Now, realize that there is a bill (AB 953), making its way through the California Legislature right now, that will do much of what we imagined above. Although, we know that collecting data will not fix broader issues with disparate policing, but increased transparency and accountability will bring us one step closer to a more just system.

In short, AB 953 allows us to #ImagineNoRacialProfiling and to imagine a system in which #BlackLivesMatter.


What you need to know about AB 953:

1. Racial and identity profiling occurs when law enforcement personnel stop, search, seize property from, or interrogate a person without evidence of criminal activity.

2. Though racial profiling by law enforcement is technically illegal, to date, California does not collect or make public basic information about who police stop, search, or even shoot. AB 953 would change that.

3. The Bill was authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), and the cosponsors are Dignity and Power Now, the ACLU of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Sacramento, PICO California, Reform California, and Youth Justice Coalition.

4. The Bill is currently on the California Assembly Floor which means that THIS WEEK, on JUNE 3RD it will be voted on by ALL MEMBERS OF THE CA ASSEMBLY.



AB 953 is on its way to the Assembly floor for a vote on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3RD. The law enforcement lobby is ramping up its efforts and we need votes to pass this bill and protect our communities!

1. Click to TWEET!

2. Click to find and CALL your assemblymember!

3. Click for a prompt to EMAIL!

Photo: Balthazar Beckett

AB 512: Credit Incentives for Incarcerated People

Using the Legislative Process as a Tool to Fight for the Human Rights of Incarcerated People: AB 512 Credit Incentives for Incarcerated People

“[Prison] relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.”
– Angela Davis

A national tragedy, the systematic targeting of black, brown, and poor bodies by the American criminal justice system has resulted in these populations being disproportionately represented in overcrowded, unhealthy, and unsafe jails and prisons. Far from being rehabilitative, these spaces strip individuals of their dignity and fundamentally violate their constitutional and human rights. Moreover, the constant policing, targeting, and incarcerating of vulnerable people has a massive traumatic impact, not only on the incarcerated individual, but on the families and communities surrounding them.

Dignity and Power Now is cosponsoring a bill that will permanently reduce Californian prison populations by bringing people home sooner. AB 512, which is currently making its way through the California legislature, is a bill that will encourage incarcerated individuals who are imprisoned in California state prisons to participate in educational, skill-building, and other programs that will reduce the amount of time that they will spend inside prisons.

We understand that the existence of structural racism, poverty, and other human rights violations, play a large role in the rates at which people enter and return to jails and prisons. We recognize that in our society the odds are stacked against those returning home from prison, especially if they are black, brown, and poor and that this bill will help to give them tools to re-adjust to their communities, making it less likely that they will return to prison.

While our ultimate goal is the abolition of the prison industrial complex using more creative, sustainable, beneficial, and human rights-compliant alternatives, we also want to do everything that we can now to bring our loved ones home.

Women, men, and gender nonconforming people currently serving sentences in California’s prisons have come out in strong support of AB 512. “Everyone needs some encouragement,” one impacted person said, “I believe this is one way. I believe it will help me go home [to] my loved ones” because “it helps to reunite parents with their loved ones faster by allowing the inmates to earn more credits toward their release.”

As one woman said, “my first grandchild was born Feb 17, 2015 and has had open heart surgery so him and his mother (my daughter) both need me [home]” and another proclaimed that “[AB 512] is the light at the end of the tunnel.”


Here are 6 things that you need to know about AB 512:

1.   California’s prisons continue to be overcrowded, which compromises the safety of incarcerated people and reduces the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts.

2.   The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and is co-sponsored by Dignity and Power Now, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Friends Committee on Legislation in California, and the American Friends Service Committee.

3.   The bill envisions that people who are serving time can earn credits when they participate in certain programs including education, trade, and substance abuse programs.

4.   Earning these credits can take time off of their overall sentence, allowing them to come home to their families sooner.

5.   Right now, incarcerated individuals can earn only up to 6 weeks worth of credit to be applied to their sentence per year, but our bill would increase that to 18-weeks per year.

6.   These Credit Earning programs have a proven track record of helping people released from prison avoid being sent back.


How to support AB 512:

1.   Currently, the bill is in the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File and has a hearing date of Thursday, May 28. Suspense File is where many bills die, so we need support now to get it through.

2.   RIGHT NOW: Tweet the author Assemblymember Mark Stone and the appropriations chair Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez and say, “I support AB 512!” Click to tweet! Make sure to hashtag #YEStoAB512!

3.   AFTER MAY 28TH, if we’re successful, AB 512 will go to the Assembly floor where it will be voted on by all Assemblymembers (before June 5). This will be the time to contact YOUR Assemblymember to ask them to vote for the AB 512.

Photo: Balthazar Beckett

Town Hall Roll Call!

When the 50+ community members attending the Compton public forum on civilian oversight were asked if they supported a commission with subpoena power, almost everyone in the room raised their hands. Subpoena power is imperative to a thorough and complete investigation into complaints against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It is a tool capable of holding deputies and staff accountable for their actions. Even without issuing a subpoena just having the power to can compel the department to turn over records during an investigation.

Photos by Walt Mancini / Pasadena Star-News

Photos by Walt Mancini / Pasadena Star-News

A similar showing of hands were raised when Vincent Harris – one of the seven working group members crafting a proposal for the commission roles, responsibilities, and powers – asked who believed the commissioners should be selected by the community. These sentiments marked the first of nine public forums taking place throughout LA County. These forums are designed to give the community an opportunity to share their views and concerns, so come share them!

All take place from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Monday April 27
700 Exposition Park Drive Los Angeles, 90037

Tuesday April 28
4837 East 3rd Street Los Angeles, 90022

Thursday April 30
625 North San Vincent Blvd. West Hollywood, 90046

Be sure to watch these videos on our five nonnegotiables and let the working group members know you support an oversight commission with teeth!