As we continue the struggle to challenge and topple the prison industrial complex, it is important we take pause to celebrate our successes and learn from our losses. In many ways, 2018 marked a year in which legislation undoing the dark legacies of mass incarceration gained momentum. Led by the inspiring work of our POC-led partners, last year grassroots movements generated enough pressure to pass five vital pieces of criminal justice reform. Together, our actions were part of a targeted and coordinated legislative strategy that elevated the voices of the most impacted, amplified the power of our organizing, and led to some significant legislative victories in California.
The five successful reforms passed this last year include:
SB 1391, which prohibits 14 and 15-year olds from being tried as adults in court.
SB 1393, which restores judicial discretion to applying a previously automatic five-year sentence enhancement.
SB 1421, which restores access to records of police misconduct.
SB 1437, which repealed the Felony Murder Rule.
AB 2138, which restored the ability to earn many professional licenses for formerly incarcerated people.
These are important and long overdue reforms and your voice helped to ensure their adoption.
Alongside these wins were some losses, particularly the passage of SB 10. In its original form, SB 10 eliminated pre-trial bail and was supported by a broad coalition of racial justice organizations. However, in a backdoor and undemocratic bait and switch, the original bill was gutted and amended in such a way that nominally eliminated bail, but that in practice will lead to more pre-trial incarceration and less accountability. It also further entrenches racial disparities and other socio-economic inequities in the criminal justice system. Despite the overwhelming opposition to the new version, SB 10 was passed and signed into law.
But we are not bowed -- we are organizing. We are gearing up for the work ahead in the upcoming 2019-20 legislative session. In that spirit, if you are interested in helping to make our collective voice heard at key moments in the legislative cycle, add your name to our Legislative Action List. Signing up will allow us to contact you during key moments in the legislative year to ask you to spend a few minutes calling targeted legislators. We'll provide the legislator's name, phone number, and a call script - we just need your commitment and energy to make it work.
Please sign up at this link to continue making phone calls to fight for racial justice.
2018 was filled with many important wins and helped to build a sense of momentum. But in the year to come, we will continue organizing and fighting for legislation that will improve equity and justice in California’s criminal justice system and challenge the legacy of the incarceral state. We look forward to your energy and support.