As described in our previous post The Role of Policy in SURJ’s Racial Justice Work, the Policy Working Group of the SURJ Bay Area chapter is working in service to, and in collaboration with our POC-led partner organizations that work on legislative advocacy: Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) / All of Us or None(AOUON), Essie Justice Group, and Initiate Justice. As we enter the 2nd quarter of the 2019 California legislative cycle, we’d like to share the bills, propositions, and campaigns that are our focus for 2019. While we expect a few more additions, this list will give you a good idea of what we’ll be supporting (and opposing) as this year progresses.
Like last year (2018 Retrospective), this year’s bills focus on addressing the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration. These bills address many different aspects of systems of incarceration, from pretrial detention (SB 42 Getting Home Safe) to unjust fees (AB 45 Medical Copay), from earning credits (AB 277 Earn Good Time Credits) to reducing post-incarceration discrimination (ACA 6/AB 646 Free the Vote). An additional important focus is addressing police brutality (AB 392, California Act to Save Lives) and opposing a few bills that seek to reinstate/maintain oppressive policies. Please see the full list below.
To get a deeper understanding of why this work is important, we encourage you to come hear from four incredible movement leaders at the frontline of this work:
• Sandra Johnson, Senior Organizer, LSPC/AOUON
• Eric Henderson, Policy Director, Initiate Justice
• Ivette Alé & Amber-Rose Howard, Statewide Coordinators, CURB
Moderated by former Black Panther leader and political prisoner Ericka Huggins
This panel discussion will take place on May 2nd, 2019 at the First Congregational Church of Oakland! More details here.
If you are interested in supporting this effort 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, providing you with the legislator’s name, phone number and call script, and ask you to spend a few minutes calling targeted legislators.
2019 Policy List (updated 4/24/2019)
Police Use of Force
AB 392 - Change of Police Use of Force - SUPPORT
This bill changes the law to restrict the use of deadly force by police only when necessary to prevent death or serious injury, and otherwise requires them to use tactics to de-escalate a situation or use alternatives to deadly force. Co-sponsored by: Anti Police Terror Project
SB 230 - Law enforcement: use of deadly force: training: policies - OPPOSE
This bill was initially a watered down competitor to AB 392 that removed much of what was so critical to pass in AB 392. It required all agencies to maintain use of force policies and mentions guidelines and training for de-escalation and alternatives to deadly force without specifying minimum standards or requirements. It has recently been amended, but as partners like the Anti Police Terror Project point out, AB 392 is the only bill to bring meaningful change to this critical issue, and as such is the bill we are supporting.
SB 36 - Data Around Pretrial Release - SUPPORT
This bill requires each county to maintain specified data for each individual that undergoes an assessment using the risk assessment tool for pretrial release. Co-sponsored by: Ella Baker Center
SB 42 - Getting Home Safe Act - SUPPORT
This bill would address the problem of unsafe, late-night jail releases and require local county jails to provide appropriate and adequate resources to people upon release. Co-sponsored by: Essie Justice Group, Anti Police Terror Project
Eliminating Fines and Fees
AB 45 - Medical Co-Pays - SUPPORT
This bill will eliminate the copays for medical and dental services inside of California prisons and jails. Co-sponsored by: Initiate Justice
SB 144 - Elimination of Fines and Fees - SUPPORT
This bill would end the assessment and collection of administrative fees imposed against people in the criminal justice system. Co-sponsored by: Ella Baker Center, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
AB 277 - Earn Good Time Credits - SUPPORT
This bill would allow individuals on parole the opportunity to earn reintegration credits to reduce their parole term. Co-sponsored by: Ella Baker Center, Initiate Justice, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
AB 665 - Erik’s Law - OPPOSE
This bill repeals SB394 (Lara, 2017), which allowed a parole hearing for those sentenced to Life Without the possibility of Parole (LWOP) before age 18 after serving 25 years. AB 665 would reinstate the LWOP sentences for juveniles. Opposed by: Initiate Justice, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Ella Baker Center
AB 965 - Youth Offender and Elder Parole Hearings: Credits - SUPPORT
This bill would allow people to earn credits to advance their earliest possible Youth Offender Parole Date or Elderly Parole Date. Co-sponsored by: Initiate Justice, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
SB 136 - The RISE Act - SUPPORT
This bill repeals a mandatory one-year sentence enhancement that is added to an individual’s base sentence for each prior prison or felony jail term served. Co-sponsored by: Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Ella Baker Center
DROP LWOP Campaign - End Life Without Parole sentences - SUPPORT
This campaign demands an end to Life Without Parole sentences, also known as the "living death penalty." Campaign sponsored by: Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Post Incarceration Reform
ACA 6 - Free The Vote Act - SUPPORT
This bill will place an initiative on the California ballot to change the California constitution to allow people on parole the right to vote. Co-sponsored by: Initiate Justice, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
AB 646 - Free The Vote Act - SUPPORT
This bill accompanies ACA 6 and will amend the Elections code to allow people on parole the right to vote. Co-sponsored by: Initiate Justice, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
AB 53 - Ban the Box Rental Housing - OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED
This bill would prohibit the owner of a rental housing accommodation from inquiring about, or requiring an applicant for rental housing accommodation to disclose a criminal record during the initial application assessment phase, as defined, unless otherwise required by state or federal law. It was originally co-sponsored by: Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, but a recent amendment has caused their position (and thus ours) to change. This amendment reduces the the time allotted to respond to landlord’s inquiry about one’s past incarceration history, and in particular provide evidence of mitigation, rehabilitation, and corrections from fourteen (14) days to two (2), which renders this bill useless to the population it was intending to support.