PR: Unlawful Removal of CA Voters with Conviction Records

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALL OF US OR NONE PUTS TEN CALIFORNIA COUNTIES ON NOTICE OVER UNLAWFUL REMOVAL OF PEOPLE WITH FELONY CONVICTIONS FROM ELECTORAL ROLLS
 

CONTACT:

Mark Fujiwara
All of Us or None Bay Area /
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
415-625-7056
mc@prisonerswithchildren.org
Christin Runkle
All of Us or None Los Angeles / Long Beach / 
A New Way of Life
323-406-6904
christin@anewwayoflife.org

San Francisco, CA. (April 4, 2018) — All of Us or None (AOUON), a California-based national grassroots organization fighting for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people, sent demand letters today to ten California county registrar’s offices and local courts believed to be unlawfully triggering the removal of people with conviction histories from electoral rolls — with estimated over 3,000 eligible voters being removed in 2017 in Los Angeles County alone.

AOUON has found evidence that these government agencies — which span ten counties, including Butte, Contra Costa, Kings, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara, Solano, Tulare, Ventura and Orange — have been violating recent legislation that preserves voting rights for people convicted of a felony under AB 109 Public Safety Realignment. The demand letters ask that the agencies immediately reinstate these voters’ registrations, send notices to alert the voters to the error, and fix their systems to ensure that such violations do not happen again. 

“We’re a national organization of formerly incarcerated individuals with a history of fighting for and winning the voting rights of people with convictions, and we are prepared to take necessary action to correct unlawful practices that violate our right to vote.” says Lisa James, AOUON-Los Angeles/Long Beach organizer.
 

Voting after Realignment has a confusing history, but the law is now clear

In 2011, a major California criminal justice reform — commonly known as “Realignment” — changed the law to require that people with non-serious, non-violent, or non-sexual felonies are sentenced to county jail or probation, instead of state prison. Since the California Constitution disenfranchises only those who are “imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony,” the voting eligibility of those serving felony sentences in county jail under Realignment was unclear for several years.

Following a successful legal battle brought by AOUON and other community allies against the Secretary of State, the State Legislature ultimately passed AB 2466 to clarify that Californians who are convicted of county Realignment felonies retain their right to vote.

As of January 1, 2017, state elections law requires local courts to provide to the county registrar a monthly list of people “committed to state prison.” The registrar is then required to cancel the registrations of people currently in prison or on parole. Despite the fact that voting rights under Realignment have now been clarified in law,

“The government’s ongoing confusion about the law leads to the continuing disenfranchisement of the very population historically subject to de facto disenfranchisement — from the Fifteenth Amendment to Jim Crow,” James says.
 

Educational efforts and voter outreach are critical

The last day to register to vote in the California primary election is May 21. For people who are currently in county jail, the deadline to request mail-in ballots is May 29. Even if registrar’s offices in these ten counties re-enroll voters quickly, outreach efforts are crucial to ensuring that people with Realignment convictions know that they can, in fact, vote.

AOUON is asking these registrar’s offices to engage in public education on the right to vote with a felony, but it will also continue its own outreach efforts. During the last two presidential general elections, AOUON-Los Angeles/Long Beach has done voter registration drives in Los Angeles County jails that have yielded more than 1,700 registrations in total. 

“As we restore voting rights to people incarcerated in jails, we need to establish a process to ensure everyone inside knows their rights and has timely access to registration forms and ballots before elections,” says Dorsey Nunn, co-founder of All of Us or None and executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children in San Francisco. “We also need formerly incarcerated people to be able to go into jails to do some of this voter  outreach — we have the unique experience to know that voting instills a sense of ownership in both ourselves and our communities.”
 

 

About All of Us or None

All of Us or None is a grassroots civil and human rights organization fighting for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and our families. We are fighting against the discrimination that people face every day because of arrest or conviction history. The goal of All of Us or None is to strengthen the voices of people most affected by mass incarceration and the growth of the prison-industrial complex. All of Us or None is a project of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, with the SoCal chapters sponsored by A New Way of Life Reentry Project.

Press Release: LSPC Joins DPA Delegation to Study Portugal’s Humane Drug Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 13, 2018

LSPC Joins Drug Policy Alliance Partners in Portugal to Study Effective, Humane Drug Decriminalization and Treatment Policy

CONTACT:
Mark Fujiwara 415-625-7056
mc@prisonerswithchildren.org
Dorsey Nunn 415-625-7052
dorsey@prisonerswithchildren.org

San Francisco, CA – Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) Executive Director and All of Us or None co-founder Dorsey Nunn will join Drug Policy Alliance members and partners in Lisbon, Portugal on March 19-22, 2018, to observe first-hand the European country’s successful drug harm-reduction and decriminalization programs.

In response to a heroin epidemic in the 1990’s, Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs and began treating drug possession and use as a health issue—employing counseling and methadone instead of judge, courtroom, and jail. As a result, drug cases have dropped 75%, HIV transmission via intravenous drug use is the lowest in Europe, overdoses are the second lowest in Europe, and the drug-induced death rate is 5 times lower than the European Union average.

During the same time period, the U.S. has doubled down on criminalization and incarceration, spending billions of dollars on a failed “War on Drugs” that has put hundreds of thousands of people—mainly of color—behind bars. In addition to incarceration, they are also shackled with a conviction history that triggers collateral consequences for the rest of their lives. There is also a real casualty cost—2016 saw more Americans dying of overdoses than were killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq Wars combined.

As a Drug Policy Alliance partner, LPSC works to end the criminalization of drug possession and use, and to restore the civil and human rights of people with conviction histories. Most recently, in 2017, LSPC co-sponsored and helped pass SB 180 (The RISE Act), which eliminated mandatory 3-year enhancement sentences for certain prior drug convictions. In addition to his legislative work and grassroots advocacy, Dorsey Nunn is also the co-founder of Free At Last, an organization in Palo Alto, CA that offers community recovery and rehabilitation services.

Meeting with the top Portuguese national health officials who crafted their innovative and human policy, as well as with the social and health workers who implement it, LSPC and other Drug Alliance Policy partners will gain greater understanding about how to more effectively shift U.S. policy and practice from carceral to caring for our communities. As a legal services and legislative policy non-profit led and staffed by formerly-incarcerated people and family members, LSPC is in a unique position to advocate for best drug policy practices at the local, state, and national levels.

Find more info on the DPA delegation and Portugal’s decriminalization policy here.

Court Hearing in Ashker v. Governor of California

12 P.M. / 1 P.M.
Friday, February 23, 2018
450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102

Or watch here on Facebook Live on Friday!

Please join LSPC, CCR, and partners in court for oral argument in Ashker v. Governor of California, a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners held in solitary confinement in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison and throughout the state.

Ashker settled in 2015, and in the years since settlement, the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel have been monitoring the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as it ends longterm indeterminate solitary confinement. In the course of that monitoring, CCR developed evidence that many class members have been released to “general population” units where have been forced to spend as much or more time locked in their cells as when they were in solitary, with little to no rehabilitative or educational programming. 

On February 23, CCR cooperating counsel Jules Lobel will be arguing a motion challenging these SHU-like general population units as a violation of the settlement agreement.

A rally preceding the hearing will start at 12:00 P.M. PST outside the courthouse, and will conclude at 12:40 to allow time to enter the building. The hearing will begin at 1 P.M.

Please arrive early to clear through security. ID is required to enter the courthouse.

Gov. Brown Signs AB1008 the Ban the Box / Fair Chance Hiring Act!

PDF of the Press Release HERE.

 

For Immediate Release:

Contact:

Governor Brown Signs Fair Chance Act, Extending ‘Ban the Box’ to Private Employers

California 10th State to Adopt Background Check Reform for Private Sector

Berkeley, CA. California Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law AB 1008, the California Fair Chance Act, one of the strongest state laws in the country extending “ban the box” to private employers.

California becomes the 10th state to require both public- and private-sector employers to delay background checks and inquiries about job applicants’ conviction records until they have made a conditional job offer to the applicant. The law takes effect in 2018.

Nearly one in three California adults—disproportionately people of color—have a conviction or arrest record that can show up on an employment background check. The Fair Chance Act will help ensure that these eight million Californians are judged by their qualifications and work experience, and not reflexively rejected by employers at the start of the hiring process.

Fair-chance reforms allow people with records to get their foot in the door and have been shown to increase the number of people with records interviewed and hired. Co-sponsored by Legal Services for Prisoners with ChildrenAll of Us or NoneNational Employment Law Project, andTime for Change Foundation, AB 1008 not only delays background checks but also ensures that job applicants receive a copy of their records before a final hiring decision so that they can point out any errors and offer additional information.

“The signing of the Fair Chance Act marks the latest step in the ‘ban the box’ campaign that All of Us or None began in 2003, and I thank everyone who has worked so diligently over the last 14 years to help formerly incarcerated and convicted people gain access to meaningful employment,” said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and co-founder of All of Us or None. “Our persistence and dedication exposes the false narrative that people directly impacted by the criminal justice system are lazy or unskilled—we have shown up time and time again to actively participate in the civic process to improve the lives of our families and communities, creating leaders at every step.”

The Fair Chance Act incorporates best practices from the fair-chance ordinances adopted by San Francisco and the City of Los Angeles, as well as the laws of nine other states and more than a dozen other cities and counties that require private employers to delay conviction inquiries. With the enactment of AB 1008, the number of people living in a state or locality with a private-sector fair-chance hiring law increases from one-in-five to nearly one-in-three U.S. residents. In total, 29 states have banned the box for at least public employment, including Nevada, Utah, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Indiana just this year.

“AB 1008 is one of the strongest fair-chance laws in the nation and certainly the one that benefits the most people,” said Beth Avery, staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project. “Given that California is home to approximately 1 in 10 of the 70 million people with records in this country, we expect the new law will directly benefit millions of Californians, while also influencing the hiring practices of major employers across the country.”

A fair chance to work for people with records also means a better chance at success for the next generation of Californians, as nearly half of all U.S. children have at least one parent with a record. What’s more, research demonstrates that employment of people with conviction histories can improve the economy and benefit public safety through decreased recidivism.

“I applaud the courageous criminal justice reforms that the Governor has made possible while continuing to make California a safer and more just society,” said Kim Carter, executive director of Time for Change Foundation. “AB 1008 strengthens the resolve he has demonstrated!”

AB 1008 was authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) as well as Assemblymembers Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Mike Gipson (D-Carson), and Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-San Bernardino), and Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena).

“We need to expand job opportunities for all Californians, especially those who have served their time and are looking for a fair chance to enter the workforce,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty.

AB 1008 was made possible by the broad support from directly impacted people and numerous California organizations. Even the California Chamber of Commerce removed opposition last month. Well-known criminal justice reform leaders also voiced support for this important law.

“AB 1008 symbolizes a belief in the quintessentially American ideas of redemption and renewal,” wrote artist and activist John Legend. Author of The New Jim Crow Michelle Alexander and executive director of Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson also urged the governor to sign AB 1008. “Our futures are all bound,” wrote Stevenson, “and California’s leadership on this issue can benefit the state while helping to guide the country.”

###

The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit www.nelp.org.

 Time for Change Foundation’s mission is to empower disenfranchised low-income individuals and families by building leadership through evidence-based programs and housing to create self-sufficiency and thriving communities. To learn more about TFCF, visitwww.TimeForChangeFoundation.org.

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) organizes communities impacted by the criminal justice system and advocates to release incarcerated people, to restore human and civil rights, and to reunify families and communities. Visit www.prisonerswithchildren.org for more information.

 All of Us or None (AOUON) is a grassroots civil and human rights organization fighting for the rights of formerly- and currently- incarcerated people and our families. AOUON began the Ban the Box campaign in 2003.

 

 

Webinar: Conquering Court Debt – Monday 10/16

WHEN: 12 – 1 P.M. Monday, October 16, 2017
REGISTER HERE!

Having unpaid court debt or a suspended driver’s license can destabilize many other areas of a low income client’s life, from parenting responsibilities to employment options to housing security. California has some of the most expensive court fines and fees in the country, but now a new set of laws and rules are available to help protect indigent people and their families.

Join this webinar to learn practical tools for advocating that local courts consider low income court users’ “ability to pay” and stop suspending driver’s licenses as a means of debt collection! Find out about the new Back on the Road “Ability to Pay” Implementation Toolkit for Advocates!

Presenters:
Brittany Stonesifer — Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Theresa Zhen — East Bay Community Law Center
Devon Porter — ACLU of Southern California

Free CLE credit available.
Hosted by Legal Aid Association of California.

REGISTER HERE!

Action Alert: FINAL WEEK!! Call Governor Brown 916.445.2841 & Urge Him To Sign AB1008 the Ban The Box / Fair Chance Hiring Act!

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AB1008 (McCarty) will remove barriers to employment for millions of Californians with conviction histories. We already have Ban the Box policies in the public sector—AB1008 will extend Fair Chance Hiring to private employers, allowing people access to meaningful employment and opportunity to support their families, pay taxes, and contribute to their communities.

Join John Legend, Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, and call Gov. Brown 916.445.2841 & urge him to sign AB1008 the Ban the Box / Fair Chance Hiring bill before the Oct. 15 deadline!


Feel free to distribute these through your social media networks:

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M_Alexander_Q1

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AOUON-Logo-Circle w SpanishAnd thank YOU for taking the time to support AB 1008 (McCarty) and all the current and formerly incarcerated people and our family members.

Keep up the fight!

For more information about our Ban the Box Campaign, check out our Toolkit here!

DonateNow

 

 

 

 


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LSPC on Street Soldiers Radio / KMEL!

LSPC Staff Attorney Brittany Stonesifer joins LSPC Executive Director & Co-Founder of All of Us or None Dorsey Nunn on Street Soldier Radio / KMEL to talk about how all of our Policy Advocacy, Fines & Fees work, and Litigation strategies improve the daily life of formerly incarcerated people & our families.

For example, Brittany’s work with the Back on the Road Coalition got Governor Brown to stop the suspension of drivers licenses for failure to pay fines, & got the DMV to restore 400,000 currently suspended drivers licences! Also, our Policy Advocacy work co-sponsoring AB 1008 (McCarty) The Fair Chance Act will extend Ban the Box policies to private employers, removing barriers to hiring for hundreds of thousands of Californians with conviction histories.

Thanks to Dr. Joseph Marshall and Alive & Free for hosting Dorsey & Brittany, & for allowing us to share our work with our communities.