Policy Update! 09-20-2019

As we near the end of the 2019 Legislative cycle, we are excited that several of our co-sponsored bills have made it through the Legislature and await the Governor’s signature. These bills represent work from many LSPC staff members, All of Us or None organizers and community members, and all of our coalition partners.  

Those bills are: 

AB 942 (Weber)  CalFresh Meals Program. This bill would extend the ability to use food stamps for hot meals at supermarkets. Passed out of Assembly 72-0 in May, 2019. Passed out of the Senate 78-0 on September 10, 2019. Now awaiting the Governor’s signature. Call Governor Newsom 916.445.2841 and ask him to sign AB 942! 

AB 1282 (Kalra) – No private ICE. This bill would prohibit ICE from using private contractors to detain and transfer people from prisons following the completion of their sentences. The bill passed the Assembly 59-15 in May. Amended and passed the Senate 29-10 on September 5. Assembly voted 61-16 concurrence to Senate amendments September 9. Now awaiting the Governor’s signature. Call Governor Newsom 916.445.2841 and ask him to sign AB 1282! 

ACA 6 (McCarty) – Restore voting rights to Californians on parole. Our last minute advocacy & calling legislators got ACA 6 passed with just the necessary 54 votes! 

ACA 6 now has to repeat the process in the Senate, moving through the committees and to another Floor Vote. Contact your CA Senator and tell them you support ACA 6 and want to restore voting rights for 50,000 Californians on parole! 

SB 136 (Wiener) – Ending Ineffective 1-Year Sentencing Enhancements. By the skin of its teeth, passed the Senate Floor vote 21-11 in May. Amended and just barely passed the Assembly Floor Vote 41-37 on September 11, 2019.  The bill eliminates the 1-year mandatory sentencing enhancement for priors except for “sexually violent offense” priors. 

SB 144 (Mitchell) – Eliminate Imposition & Collection of Most Court Fees. This bill has become a 2-year bill, as we wait for courts and counties to share with us how eliminating the court fees would fiscally impact them. They have yet to respond, probably because there is no fiscal impact since they often spend more trying to collect from low-income Californians than they bring in. We look forward to continuing the fight to eliminate oppressive court fees again in January! 

SB 310 (Skinner) – Jury Service. The bill, which would restore the right of jury service to people with felony convictions, was amended to exclude people currently on parole or on the sex offenders registry. Received a 47-26 vote on the Assembly Floor on September 9, and then a Senate concurrence vote of 29-10 on September 11. Call Governor Newsom 916.445.2841 and ask him to sign SB 310! 

Other legislation of interest includes: 

AB 32 (Bonta) – Ban CA Private Prison Contracts. Prohibits new or renewal contracts between CDCR and private prison companies, including ICE detention centers. As many current contracts are on 1-year “bridge” contracts, the bill effectively ends private prisons and ICE detention prisons in CA after 2020. People currently incarcerated in ICE detention prisons will probably be transferred to county jails with ICE contracts, until those contracts are also banned. 

AB 45 (Stone) – Prison Co-Pays. Ends the co-pays people incarcerated in prison must pay to access medical treatment. Currently people incarcerated in CDCR prisons must pay a $5 co-pay to access medical treatment. 

AB 484 (Jones-Sawyer) – Eliminate Mandatory Confinement during Probation. This bill would, for certain drug convictions, give judges granting probation the discretion to impose the current 180-day confinement condition mandatory with current convictions. 

AB 1076 (Ting) – Automatic Relief. Will automatically seal arrest/conviction records for certain low-level offenses after diversion program. 

ACR 91 (Jones-Sawyer) – Second Chances Month. This measure designates June 2019 as Second Chances Month in California, highlighting existing services and events to support reentry from incarceration. 

SB 42 (Skinner) – Getting Home Safe Act. Requires sheriffs to release people from county jails between 8 A.M. and 5 P.M. or at sundown (whichever is later), as well as track the time and number of people released. Will end the practice of releasing people at midnight with no public transportation available. 

SB 394 (Skinner) – Diversion for Primary Caregivers of Minor Children. Creates a pretrial diversion program for defendants who are primary caregivers of a child under 18 years of age, as specified, and who are charged with a misdemeanor or a nonserious, nonviolent felony. 

SB 575 (Bradford) – Cal Grants for Students Incarcerated in Prison. Will allow students currently incarcerated to be eligible to receive a Cal Grant award. 

Thank all of you for your tireless efforts and support for all of our legislation. Stay tuned for updates on our website as well. For more information, contact Policy Fellow Katie Dixon: katie@prisonerswithchildren.org 

PRESS RELEASE: California Legislators and Impacted Advocates Urge State Assembly to Restore the Right to Vote for Californians on Parole

The campaign follows similar successful measures in Nevada and Colorado.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2019

Contacts:
Mark Fujiwara, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSCP) /
All of Us or None
(510) 306.2444 / mc@prisonerswithchildren.org

Nicholas Reiner, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)
(562) 243-0656 / nreiner@arc-ca.org

Sacramento, CA – Today California legislators joined the Free the Vote Coalition in calling on the Assembly to pass ACA 6, a constitutional amendment which will restore the right to vote for Californians on parole. On the heels of legislatures in Nevada and Colorado passing legislation restoring voting rights to people who have come home from prison, Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles), Rob Stone (D-Monterey Bay), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and members of the Free The Vote coalition urged their colleagues to vote yes on ACA 6, which is expected to be brought up for a vote before the full Assembly in the coming days.

“The passage of ACA 6 would allow Californians on parole to fully participate in our shared democracy,” said Sam Lewis, Executive Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition(ARC), “Doing so would move us closer to a reality in which all citizens of California can exercise their right to vote.”

Currently in California, otherwise-eligible adults can vote while they are on most forms of community supervision – including probation, county Post-Release Community Supervision, and federal supervised release – but cannot vote while they are on state parole. ACA 6 will change that by placing a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot that would restore the right to vote for nearly 50,000 Californians on parole.

“Political power is the greatest currency in the U.S.,” said Aminah Elster, Senior Staff Organizer and Family Unity Project Coordinator at Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, “You can’t say that you are for the people if you continue to deny people the right to exercise their voice. You can’t say you are for the people if you stand in the way of individuals on parole exercising their fundamental right to vote.”

ACA 6, co-sponsored by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, would address the history of racial oppression behind California’s felony disenfranchisement laws. Three of every four men leaving California prisons are either African American, Latino, or Asian American. Black Americans are four times more likely to experience felony disenfranchisement than are white Americans. This constitutional amendment will roll back a form of voter suppression currently facing Californians of color and will signal to all Californians that their voices matter.

“In California, we are known for our progressive ideals but when it comes to restoring the right to vote for individuals who have served their time, we are behind the pack.” said Assemblymember McCarty. “We have to fight for voting justice. And in order to fully integrate folks to our communities, we must restore their right to vote and participate in civic engagement and democracy.”

An estimated 4.6 million people nationwide are unable to vote because of a felony conviction. Currently, just under 50,000 people on parole throughout California—working, paying taxes, raising families in their communities—are unable to vote in any local, state, or federal elections. California is behind eighteen other states and Washington, D.C, which either automatically restore voting rights upon release from prison or have no felony disenfranchisement whatsoever.

“There is precedent and national momentum for restoring voting rights to people on parole,” said Taina Vargas-Edmond, Founder and Executive Director of Initiate Justice, “This year, Nevada and Colorado restored voting rights to approximately 87,000 people on parole. Last year, New York, Louisiana, and most notably, Florida collectively restored voting rights to almost 2 million formerly incarcerated people.” 

The disenfranchisement of Californians on parole is enshrined in the state’s constitution. Thus, the restoration of voting rights to otherwise-eligible adults results only from an amendment to the California Constitution. ACA 6 needs a ⅔ majority in both state houses to pass.

“The League of Women Voters has been fighting for voting rights for one hundred years and the fight is far from over” said Dora Rose, Deputy Director of the League of Women Voters of California, “Restoring voting rights to people who used to be incarcerated, a disproportionate number of whom are Black or Brown, is the new face of the suffrage movement.”  

About the Free the Vote Coalition

The Free the Vote Coalition is made up of ten organizations whose goal is to restore the right to vote for all people impacted by the criminal justice system. The partners in sponsoring this bill are Initiate Justice, ACLU of California, All of Us or None / Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), League of Women Voters of California, People Over Profits San Diego, Vote Allies, and White People for Black Lives (WP4BL).California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is also a co-sponsor of ACA 6.

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Block Party!

Let’s Celebrate!

WHEN: 11 A.M. – 4 P.M., Saturday, August 31, 2019
WHERE: The Freedom & Movement Center, 4400 Market St., Oakland, CA

Join LSPC and All of Us or None for a celebration of community!

We’re throwing a BLOCK PARTY on Saturday, August 31, and all our friends, neighbors, and comrades are invited! Come enjoy delicious BBQ, games for kids, raffle prizes, live music, and quality time with friends and neighbors.

For more information, or for tabling opportunities, contact:
London Croudy
2019 Elder Freeman Policy Fellow
415.255.7036 x300
london@prisonerswithchildren.org

PR: SF County Jails to start free phone calls!

MAYOR LONDON BREED AND SHERIFF VICKI HENNESSY ANNOUNCE PLAN FOR SAN FRANCISCO TO MAKE ALL JAIL PHONE CALLS FREE AND END COUNTY MARKUPS IN THE JAIL COMMISSARY

San Francisco will become the first county in the nation to stop generating revenue from incarcerated people and their families, lifting an economic burden from low-income communities, boosting connection to support networks, and easing re-entry

Contact:
Aminah Elster, LSPC Family Unity Project Coordinator
415.361.4606 / aminah@prisonerswithchildren.org

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Sheriff Vicki Hennessy today announced that San Francisco will become the first county in the nation to make all phone calls from jail free and end all county markups on jail store items. The plan is funded in the Mayor’s recently announced budget and the Sheriff’s Department will implement these reforms over the next fiscal year.

“This change is an important continuation of our efforts to reform fines and fees that disproportionately impact low-income people and communities of color. When people are in jail they should be able to remain connected to their family without being concerned about how much it will cost them or their loved ones,” said Mayor Breed. “Incarcerated individuals should be able to purchase items from the jail commissary without having to pay extra for even the most basic goods.”

“When I assumed office in 2016, we reduced the cost of phone calls for people in jail to one of the lowest levels in the State,” said Sheriff Hennessy. “Since then, we’ve been studying how we can remove financial barriers to reentry for people in jail, working with the San Francisco Financial Justice Project in the Treasurer’s Office, criminal justice advocates, and the Mayor’s Office. Thanks to our collaboration, commitment, and mutual compassion for others, the Sheriff’s Department will phase in free phone calls for everyone in San Francisco county jails and end county commissary markups over the next fiscal year.”

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department has been a leader in reducing call costs and San Francisco has among the lowest calling rates in the region. According to Prison Policy Initiative, the average cost of a 15-minute, in-state phone call from a San Francisco county jail is $2.10, significantly lower than the statewide average of $5.70. Approximately 50% of calls are currently free from San Francisco County jails, either because they are to an attorney or originate from the intake facility where people are first booked.

Marking up prices for phone calls and commissary items is a common practice in jails and prisons across the country, but San Francisco now joins a growing number of cities, counties and states that are working to eliminate these costs, including New York City.

High phone call costs and an average county markup of 43% on items from the jail commissary place an economic burden on incarcerated people and their families. If an incarcerated person makes two 15-minute phone calls a day in San Francisco, it will cost $300 over 70 days, which is the average jail stay, or $1,500 over the course of the year.

Analysis done by the San Francisco Financial Justice Project in the Office of City Treasurer José Cisneros estimates that 80% of phone calls are paid for by incarcerated individuals’ support networks, primarily low-income women of color. In a national survey of incarcerated people and their families, the cost of phone calls was identified as the primary barrier to staying in contact with loved ones in prison or jail.

“In 2019 in San Francisco no one should pay this much money to call their son or daughter or buy basic hygiene items,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “We should not fund city operations on the backs of families who simply want to stay in touch with their lifelines and support networks. I am proud to stand with the Sheriff and the Mayor on this groundbreaking effort.”

Studies show that people who maintain contact with their families while incarcerated are less likely to reoffend after they are released and have lower recidivism rates. According to the Vera Institute, the majority of people who exit the criminal justice system end up residing with a relative or spouse after their release, and staying connected with family while incarcerated helps maintain these important relationships.

“This change will do more than allow for free phone calls within county jails. With this reform, San Francisco will open the lines of communication between incarcerated people and their families and support networks, which has been proven to reduce recidivism while boosting successful family and community reintegration,” said Aminah S. R. Elster, Family Unity Project Coordinator at Legal Services for Prisoners With Children.

“There are significant social and fiscal benefits associated with expanding communication between incarcerated people and their support networks. Yet, more important than utility is humanity. The relationship between a mother and her child should never be exploited, but rather protected and encouraged,” said Bianca Tylek, Executive Director of Worth Rises, an advocacy organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex. “We applaud Mayor Breed for building on the advocacy wins in New York City to make jail phone calls free.”

This reform builds on other efforts in San Francisco to assess and reform fines and fees that disproportionately affect low-income people and communities of color. In 2018, San Francisco became the first county in the nation to eliminate administrative fees across multiple City agencies that are charged to people exiting the criminal justice system. The City and County ultimately wrote off $32 million in debt that was owed by 21,000 people, since the fees were charged almost exclusively to low-income people who could not pay them. These fees created barriers to people’s re-entry and also had very low collection rates.

Changes to phone calls and commissary markups will go into effect over the next fiscal year. In the meantime, the Sheriff’s Department will continue to offer opportunities for free phone calls to those without funds in jail during holidays and observances such as this Father’s Day weekend, Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16.

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LSPC and AOUON Standing Strong in the Fight for Housing Rights and Justice

By Sabina Crocette, LSPC Policy Manager

LSPC and AOUON have recently expanded our areas of focus beyond the concerns of currently and formerly incarcerated people to also include the underlying conditions that bring people into contact with the criminal legal system, including the lack of safe and affordable housing.

This legislative season brought a number of important housing bills to the forefront. Two of those that LSPC and AOUON have been working to address are AB 53 and SB 50. On Wednesday, April 24, 2019 a group of us showed up at the capitol to testify to ensure both bills address the needs of our communities.

AB 53 is sponsored by Assembly Member Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-59, South Los Angeles) and claims to create a “ban-the-box” in private housing for people with conviction histories. AB 53 was not a substantive fix to the severe problems facing our community in terms of access to housing because it did not mandate that people with conviction histories be afforded the right to housing regardless of their criminal records. Across the nation, formerly incarcerated people are 10 times as likely as others to be homeless and face enormous hurdles to get housing. AB 53 would have eliminated the question about criminal convictions on the housing application, but, once an offer of housing was to be made, an inquiry could be made into your conviction history. Under the bill, owners got legal protections against suits by third parties based on a theory of negligence in renting.

AB 53 was a modest first step. Unfortunately, the bill’s author started pushing amendments to the bill which effectively disadvantaged folks with conviction histories, shielded landlords who discriminated against those with convictions histories from suit, and, finally, provided only two days for folks to provide evidence of errors on criminal records, rehabilitation, or mitigation. We fought back against all but one of those changes. Jones-Sawyer tried to move forward with the two-day period to respond to inquiries about criminal history without our agreement or support. We mounted a campaign to withdraw support, and LSPC and AOUON members showed up at the hearing, ready to oppose unless amended, or to ask that the bill not be voted on by the Housing and Community Development Committee. Before we could stand in our truth, the bill’s author took the bill off calendar. Right now, the bill is dead.

SB 50, the single most sweeping housing bill being considered right now, will change the way development is done in California. Senator Scott Wiener (D-11, San Francisco), authored a massive bill that has been described by many as a “give-away” to developers. Under the bill, developers will have a “right” to develop in communities where there is significant public transit infrastructure, such as buses, Bart and train service. While sounding innocuous, this bill targets market rate development in the communities where Black, Brown, and very low- and moderate-income people live now, and who now are struggling to remain in their homes of many years.

A number of housing and economic justice advocates and a few of our staff at LSPC and AOUON have joined forces to take Senator Wiener to task by addressing numerous inequities in the bill and demanding the inclusion of a number of complex but crucial components. Some of the biggest concerns around affordability include the need for a value-added recapture process. That refers to new value given to developers based on the ability to build higher and denser buildings without paying more in taxes and fees to build them. Developers are allowed to keep that value and not reinvest it (recapture) into those communities through projects for low to very low- and moderate-income units.

Other areas of disagreement include:

  • the need for broader definitions of “sensitive communities,” which will give those communities more control over how developments projects are done,
  • the continued use of in-lieu of fees by developers who make promises to create units for low and very low-income people and then renege and pay a paltry fee instead and keep all of the units market rate,
  • the retention of the local planning commissions and community input into the process of development.

At the committee hearing last week, LSPC and AOUON were proud to join the group of over 200 organizations, individuals, and elected officials who spoke against the bill unless the changes we identified above take place. Ultimately, SB 50 made it out of the committee and is now going to be heard in the full Senate. The battle continues on this bill.

Kim Carter, founder of A Time for Change Foundation, once said, “We would rather die on the battlefield than stand on the sidelines or bargain away our rights before we ever fight for them.” Thanks, Ms. Kim, we couldn’t agree more. Thank you to everyone who called, wrote, or showed up to the hearing!

Join us in the fight!

Call or Send an email to Senator Wiener and the other members of the Senate Governance & Finance Committee on this Friday, Monday and/or Tuesday, and tell them:

SB 50, as currently written, doesn’t go far enough to address inequities, gentrification, and displacement, while it gives developers more and more rights and privileges to build. They will build many of us, who are Black, Brown, immigrant, and poor, out of the communities we have lived in for generations.

Please include provisions to:

  • address value-added capture,
  • better definitions of “sensitive communities” to include those already devastated by gentrification,
  • craft stronger protections and verification processes for developers to avoid building on spaces where renters have lived for the previous 7 years,
  • not eliminate or severely weaken the ability of communities where development is targeted from having a say in what their communities through the planning commission process,
  • get rid of in-lieu fees or make them completely financially undesirable to use so developers can keep their promises to build for low-, very-low, and moderate-income folks to include them in housing developments.”

We oppose the bill unless it is amended as described.”

Thank you for your support!

For more information, contact LSPC Policy Manager, Sabina Crocette:sabina@prisonerswithchildren.org / 415.625.7040

Homecoming Celebration

All or Us or None celebrates your freedom!

WHEN: 6-8 P.M. – Friday, May 31, 2019
WHERE: 4400 Market Street, Oakland, CA 94608

We welcome our recently-released comrades and your family members to join us in a Celebration of Freedom!

You’re invited to the Freedom & Movement Center for an evening of food, music, community, and support!

To RSVP:
London Croudy – london@prisonerswithchildren.org – 415.255.7036×300

Ain’t I a Mother, Too?

A mother without housing is a mother without her child.

Ain’t I A Mother, Too?
May 10th 6-8 pm
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
388 9th St, Oakland, CA 94607 

Register for this Free Event HERE!


Are you outraged by family separation at our Southern border?

Are you aware that family separation is happening right here in the Bay Area?

Did you know that lack of housing is often the greatest barrier to a mother’s reunification with her child(ren)?

We are asking for the tech industry’s help!

The tech industry has been blamed in large part for the rent increases and displacement of people seen recently in the Bay Area. While we cannot minimize the wonderful contributions that technology has given us in the advancement of our healthcare, science, and educational systems, we know that modernizing and upgrading efficiencies have not served to help everyone, as they should.

While many applaud and appreciate the innovations of modern society, we know that our society has failed to keep up with adequate housing supply to meet the needs of the people. This is why our coalition is looking to change the narrative and engage with this promising sector to innovate, not eliminate, the most precious relationship on earth – that between a mother and her children. The first step to protecting this relationship is housing.

Unbeknownst to many members of the public, women who have children in the child welfare system are losing their parental rights for lifebecause in the Bay Area housing is becoming more of a luxury than a basic human right. Meanwhile, our court system requires that mothers find and sustain housing before they can reunify with their children. Due in large part to this requirement, there are over 28,000 children currently waiting for reunification with their mothers. Leaving those children to wait is certainly a cruel jest as it is no secret that the housing their parents are required to obtain does not exist. The extreme shortage of “low income” housing is well documented with the latest data revealing that there are only 34 units for every 100 persons in need. This is cruel and unusual punishment.

Technology and data analysis systems are helping us to center the voices of the marginalized, build community power, and connect in ways we’ve never seen before. We owe this progress to the technological advances and tools made for everyday people, used creatively by organizers and advocates. It is our hope that technology can help us to overcome this issue of family separation, and be harnessed to keeping families together instead of facilitating their separation.

We are building an interdisciplinary team of innovators from various fields including law, technology, social work, community organizing, urban development, and education. This team will reimagine our housing deficit and the various social services that rely on this system to develop local and state advocacy efforts. Please join us for this thought-provoking conversation and to be a part of the solution! We encourage you to attend our “Ain’t I A Mother Too!” symposium being held on May 10th from 6-8pm at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. 

Press Release: FUNDING THE FIGHT AGAINST MASS INCARCERATION

CJI Quest for Democracy Fund to Grant additional $400K

Media contact: Aleah Bacquie Vaughn
Email: aleahb@cjifund.org
Phone: 646-599-6354

BROOKLYN, NY – Circle for Justice Innovations (CJI) is pleased to announce that in partnership with the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Prisoners and Families Movement (FICPFM) it will award $440,000 through the Quest for Democracy Fund (Q4D) to support non-profit organizations led by formerly incarcerated people. Funding priorities include:

  • Restoration of Rights for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people
  • Felon Re-enfranchisement/Voting Rights Restoration, and Civic Engagement
  • Law Enforcement Accountability (police, prosecutors, and judges)
  • Bail Reform and Systems Supervision

“We are so inspired and honored to be able to support grassroots organizations all over the country that work to transform the criminal legal system. This growing movement draws on the innovation, passion, devotion, and resilience of millions who have experienced the living hell that is the U.S. prison system. Together, we are challenging this criminal and criminalizing legal system to support viable, restorative justice alternatives to incarceration. Instead, we need to enhance opportunities for forgiveness, restoration, accountability and safety, which we all deserve.” – Aleah Bacquie Vaughn, CJI’s Executive Director.

“I am extremely proud to be a small part of supporting additional freedom fighters. When we gathered in Florida right before the election we stated that we would be setting up a Quest for Democracy Fund and share the resources with formerly incarcerated people and their families. We pushed out almost $500,000. We did this because we wanted others to help continue the fight for the full restoration of our civil and human rights. I also wanted to thank the funders that believed in our vision and our integrity.” – Dorsey Nunn, founding leader of All of Us or None, Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, FICPFM Steering Committee Member, and Quest for Democracy Grant-making Circle member.

Three members of the Q4D Circle are leaders of organizations that were CJI grantees in their early years. “CJI is honored to have played a role in helping to provide resources to the movement and these exceptional leaders,” said Aleah Bacquie Vaughn.

The Q4D grantees will be given an opportunity for intensive, technical assistance and training by FICPFM organizing veterans. This training will equip the Q4D grantees to be more effective and impactful in their work changing policies and laws that deny the human rights of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

About Circle for Justice Innovations (CJI) – a project fiscally sponsored by NEO Philanthropy

Circle for Justice Innovations (CJI) is a national innovative grant-making collaborative made up of community organizers, activists, donors, and donor-activists. The CJI Circle identifies, funds, and nurtures grassroots organizations led by those most impacted working to transform the criminal justice system in the United States. CJI has invested over $2 million in grants since 2009. It serves as a leader in the funding of movement work within marginalized communities which includes: people of color, young people, immigrants, gender and sexual minorities, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, Native Americans, low-income communities and other communities impacted by the criminal justice and immigration systems. For more information, visit www.cjifund.org

About The Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM)

The Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM) is a network of over 50 civil and human rights organizations led by people who have conviction histories and their family members. Committed to transforming society by transforming the criminal justice system, they advocate legislatively, judicially and through direct community organizing. Working collaboratively and using multiple approaches, they have been deeply successful in securing alternatives to criminalization, restoring the rights of those previously criminalized by the system, and shifting the dominant narrative on who people with conviction histories and their loved ones are. The vision is, ultimately, a society in which prisons do not exist. For more information, visit www.ficpfmmovement.org

Circle for Justice Innovations (CJI)

CJI’s mission is to end Mass Criminalization and Incarceration in the United States by building and strengthening the infrastructure of the grassroots criminal justice movement. We fund where the movement is developing, shifting and growing. We believe this movement should be led by those most impacted by the injustices of the current system, working in alliances across race, class, faith, gender, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status and age.
CJI Fund is a program of NEO Philanthropy Inc.

Art for Justice Announces Partnership with Acclaimed Los Angeles-Based Artist Mark Bradford

For Immediate Release
January 24, 2019

Spitfire for Art for Justice
Aketa Marie Williams
aketa@spitfirestrategies.com | +1 615 509 3891

Sutton for Mark Bradford
Rachel Rees
Rachel.rees@suttonpr.com | +1 646 425 2268

Emily Alli
Emily@suttonpr.com  +1 206 718 4202

Los Angeles, CA – For the inaugural edition of Frieze Los Angeles, Mark Bradford has created an image of a police body camera isolated on a light-colored background. Entitled Life Size, this significant work comprises the powerful camera image presented on posters around the city, a large-scale billboard on location at Paramount Pictures Studios, as well as a limited-edition print series of the image, rendered into a 3-D sculptural work that is elevated from the print’s surface.

“I’m always interested in found objects and how context can give meaning,” said Bradford. “The police body camera carries with it such loaded and complex connotations.  I also love it as an object—it’s both haunting and resonant.”

At the artist’s behest, proceeds from sales of his limited-edition print series will go directly to the Art for Justice Fund, to be invested in campaigns to support greater career opportunities for people who are transitioning back home from prison. Bradford is the first artist since the Fund’s establishment to directly support Art for Justice with proceeds from the sale of their own artwork.

“I admire Mark as both an artist and a humanitarian. His work helps us confront our own biases by exposing the false narratives around race and poverty. In doing this, he enables us to see one another with more compassion and empathy,” said Fund founder Agnes Gund. “I’m honored by his gift, which will accelerate our artists and advocates’ efforts to create communities that welcome people back home to fewer barriers and to more employment opportunities.”  

Art for Justice takes a holistic approach to confronting the primary drivers of high prison population, in part, by eliminating the thousands of legal barriers to employment that often confront people with a criminal record and boosting investments in reentry policies that recognize the importance of higher education in prison. Bradford’s donation will support organizations including the Bard Prison Initiative, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, The Opportunity Institute, and the Vera Institute of Justice in addition to fellowships for artists whose work speaks to the devastating consequences of mass incarceration and the web of legal obstacles that entangle people post incarceration.  

In 2019, a police body camera has clear evocations around responsibility and notions of freedom across the United States, and specifically in Los Angeles, as one of the most culturally- and racially-diverse cities in the nation, which has its own charged history with these themes. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bradford’s interest in our shared human experiences is a theme that runs throughout his diverse studio practice.

Life Size, contextualized by this collaboration with Frieze Los Angeles and Art for Justice, reflects the artist’s longstanding interest in how communities—particularly those which have been traditionally marginalized—address issues of social and economic justice, as well as his belief in art’s ability to expose contradictory histories and inspire action in the present day. Bradford is deeply engaged with social issues as co-founder of Los Angeles-based nonprofit Art + Practice, which encourages cultural education by supporting the needs of foster youth living predominantly in South Los Angeles, and providing access to free, museum-curated art exhibitions and moderated art lectures to the community of Leimert Park. The artist’s equivalent commitments to formal intervention and social activism anchor his contribution to culture at large and embody his belief in the power of art to affect positive change.  

Life Size is made possible thanks to a collaboration between the artist, Frieze Los Angeles, Endeavor and Hauser & Wirth.

About Art for Justice

The Art for Justice Fund is a five-year initiative created by Agnes Gund in partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Ford Foundation. The Fund is dedicated to combating the injustices of mass incarceration through the collective action of artists, advocates and philanthropists.

About Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford was born in 1961 in Los Angeles, where he lives and works. Bradford’s profound insight and inventiveness have established him as one of the most significant and influential artists of his generation, and he has been widely exhibited internationally as well as the recipient of numerous awards including the U.S. Department of State’s Medal of Arts in 2014, his appointment as a National Academician in 2013, and a MacArthur Fellowship Award in 2009. In 2017, Bradford represented the US at the 57th Venice Biennale with Tomorrow Is Another Day, and in November that same year, Bradford unveiled Pickett’s Charge, a monumental, site-specific installation for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. In 2018, Bradford was commissioned to create a site-specific work for the new US Embassy in London. Entitled We The People, the work comprises 32 panels, each 10 square feet, featuring select text from the United States Constitution.

Best known for his large-scale abstract paintings that examine the class-, race-, and gender-based economies that structure urban society in the United States, Bradford’s richly layered and collaged canvases represent a connection to the social world through materials. Bradford uses fragments of found posters, billboards, newsprint, and custom-printed paper to simultaneously engage with and advance the formal traditions of abstract painting. 

About Frieze Los AngelesFrieze, one of the world’s most influential contemporary art fairs, will launch Frieze Los Angeles at Paramount Pictures Studios this February 14–17, 2019. The fair will bring together 70 of the most significant and forward-thinking contemporary galleries from across the city and around the world, alongside a curated program of talks, site-specific artists’ projects and film.

Free the Vote Campaign Launches In California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2019
Contact:
Nicholas Reiner, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)
(562) 243-0656
nreiner@arc-ca.org

California State Asm. McCarty introduces ACA 6 that would create a 2020 ballot measure to restore the right to vote for Californians on parole

Sacramento, CA – Today the Free the Vote Coalition launched its multi-year campaign to end voter suppression for Californians with criminal records. California Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) introduced ACA 6, a constitutional amendment which begins the process of restoring the right to vote for Californians on parole. The legislation will create a 2020 ballot measure, giving California voters the opportunity to re-enfranchise their neighbors with convictions.

“It is time to restore the right to vote for individuals who have served their time,” said Asm. McCarty. “ACA 6 will eliminate an arbitrary barrier to voting, reduce recidivism, and give formerly incarcerated people an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to become productive, contributing members of our society.”

ACA 6, co-sponsored also by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, would be the next step in addressing the history of racial oppression behind California’s felony disenfranchisement laws. Today marks the 149th anniversary of California’s rejection of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits voting restrictions based on race.

“The removal of the right to vote is not based in an interest in public safety,” said Taina Vargas-Edmond, Executive Director of Initiate Justice. “Rather, it is rooted in a punitive justice belief system that robs Californians of color of their political power. Three of every four people leaving California prisons are either African American, Latino, or Asian American.”

4.6 million people nationwide are ineligible to vote because of a felony conviction. Currently, nearly 50,000 people on parole throughout California—working, paying taxes, raising families in their communities—are unable to vote in any local, state, or federal elections. California is currently behind fourteen other states and Washington, D.C, which either automatically restore voting rights upon release from prison or have no felony disenfranchisement whatsoever. National momentum is growing to restore voting rights to people with convictions. Governors in New York and Virginia recently used executive power to re-enfranchise certain people who had finished their sentences. Last year, both Florida and Louisiana rolled back their bans on voting for formerly incarcerated people and New Mexico is introducing similar legislation this year.

“Felony disenfranchisement was written into the California Constitution during its inception in 1849,” said Brittany Stonesifer, Voting Rights Attorney at the ACLU of California. “Though the state now allows people to vote if they are in county jail, on probation, or on Post-Release Community Supervision, Californians on parole are still unfairly disenfranchised by our constitution.”

Because the disenfranchisement of Californians on parole is inscribed in the state’s constitution, the restoration of voting rights to otherwise-eligible adults results only from a proposed amendment to the California Constitution. As a potential constitutional amendment, ACA 6 needs a ⅔ majority in both state houses to pass. The introduction of ACA 6 is the first step toward ensuring that Californians on parole can fully participate in our shared democracy and moves us closer to a reality in which all Californians have the right to vote.

“One of the fundamental rights of American citizenship is the right to vote,” said Shaka Senghor, Executive Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). “Giving people who are returning home from prison access to civic participation ensures their successful reintegration and makes our democracy stronger.”

About the Free the Vote Coalition

Free the Vote Coalition is made up of ten organizations whose goal is to restore the right to vote for all people impacted by the criminal justice system. In 2019, Free the Vote will advocate for an ACA that will implement a 2020 ballot measure to restore the right to vote for Californians on parole. The partners in sponsoring this bill are Initiate Justice, ACLU of California, All of Us or None / Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), League of Women Voters of California, People Over Profits San Diego, Vote Allies, and White People for Black Lives (WP4BL). California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is also a co-sponsor of ACA 6.

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