City on a Hill Press – May 22, 2014 by Aron Garst
California already spends more than 60,000 on each inmate while only spending 9,200 on each K-12 student, and to add to that Jerry Brown is adding $500 million to the states budget to expand county jails.
Last week, organized protests took place across the state in San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento in a coordinated effort to halt Gov. Brown’s revised May budget. Protesters from the coalition Californians Reunited for a Responsible Budget (CURB) gathered outside the Santa Cruz County’s Superior Courthouse last Wednesday to stand against California’s proposed budget.
“It’s really illuminating to see where the state’s priorities are,” said community organizer Tash Nguyen. “We’re in a place where we really need to follow the money to see how lawmakers are addressing our issues. Clearly they’re not.”
Our very own Noah Miska made another comic!
Now it’s your turn–tell our Supervisors that Santa Cruz doesn’t want $24 million to build a bigger jail! Our County should not be investing more resources in a system that targets poor families and families of color.
Let’s uplift our community by taking action and spreading the word!
Download The Realignment Crisis as pdf.
The Crisis of Realignment
California’s prisons are overcrowded. So overcrowded that in 2011, the US Supreme Court ordered the state of California to reduce its prison population by 10,000 inmates. Instead of simply releasing them, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has tried to keep as many people behind bars as possible by moving them to county jails and private prisons. This shuffling about of prisoners has been termed “Public Safety Realignment”, or just “Realignment” for short.
As a result of the influx of state prisoners through Realignment, county jails are also growing increasingly overcrowded. To reduce the pressure on overcrowded jails, the state has set aside $500 million for jail expansion projects. This money will be divided up between different counties to pay for construction costs. Once built, the new or expanded jails will be operated by their home counties, with some financial help from the state. If all this comes to pass, county jails will function as an extension to the state prison system, while the root causes of overcrowding go unaddressed. We will be left with a bigger, more expensive prison and jail system, and less money for programs that would keep people out of jail in the first place: education, housing, mental health services, addiction counseling, job training, and community centers.
At the same time that legislators and law enforcement leaders are trying to build more cages, a coalition of grassroots organizations around the state is working to stop them. Individual groups are advocating for alternatives to incarceration in their host counties, and are coordinating with folks in other regions to mobilize for strategic statewide actions. It’s too soon to tell how this movement will unfold, but the demands are clear: build strong communities, not jails.
Movers and Shakers,
As we wrap up the holiday weekend and prepare for an abundant new year, Sin Barras is looking forward to ending 2013 with a big bang! Our statewide coalition, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), is mobilizing to California’s Board & State Community Corrections Board Hearing this Wednesday December 4th to oppose jail expansion and the governor’s priorities and we need all hands on deck.
November is on the horizon and we wanted to take a minute to keep everyone in the know of what’s ahead. The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to pass the Sherrif’s jail proposal last week and we encourage everyone to help us brainstorm our next step. In other words.. we need all the creativity, community, and organizing energy we can get!
We also just ordered a button-maker to make abolition jewels and will have a craft party in the very near future.
Sunday, November 3: CISPES Advocacy Workshop (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) 11-2pm Beach Flats Community Center
This workshop is centered around urging the US government to support Free & Fair elections in El Salvador. The workshop will discuss techniques on approaching politicians, and how to be strategic about having the Obama administration publicly state its neutrality in the electoral process. (We were invited to join because our work is relevant.)
The Resource Center for Nonviolence and Sin Barras is co-programming a community discussion on abolition! Steve Martinot (The Need to Abolish the Prison System: An Ethical Indictment) and Dianne Durham will present a multi-faceted ethical argument for abolition and engage the audience in discussion.