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50+ organizations demand San Francisco release people from jails to mitigate...

“The proven and most effective way to combat the spread of infectious diseases inside of jails is to reduce the imprisoned population and release people back into their communities.” - No New SF Jail Coalition

When treatment means punishment

Amidst an overdose crisis of historic proportions, proponents of coercion are deftly adopting criminal justice reform rhetoric to market “alternatives” that simply cloak the mechanics of the criminal justice system in public health interventions. Register for a free conference, “Coercive Treatment – Moving Beyond ‘For Your Own Good,’” to be held May 16-17 at UC Hastings College of the Law, 198 McAllister St., San Francisco.

War on marijuana and disparate policing in communities of color must...

I went into law school thinking that I wanted to be a civil rights attorney. I wanted to use my law degree to fight the many systems of oppression that plagued and terrorized the communities that mattered to me. It wasn’t until my third year of law school, that I recognized current cannabis policies as a legitimate social justice issue – particularly due to the way marijuana prohibition is enforced.

NAACP secures changes to California Marijuana Initiative

With California voters likely to decide by ballot initiative this year whether to become the fifth state to legalize recreational use of marijuana, the state chapter of the NAACP saw an opportunity to address related civil rights issues it has been concerned with for years. After successfully voicing their concerns, the state’s NAACP chapter endorsed the ballot initiative.

In largest one-time release, 6,000 inmates will walk out of federal...

In an unprecedented move, 6,000 inmates will soon be released from federal prisons in what the Washington Post calls history’s “largest one-time release of federal prisoners.” This change is due to last year’s decision by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to lower sentencing guidelines for drug crimes and apply the change retroactively. Remarkably, this release is only the beginning.

Advocates celebrate Prop. 47 victory against mass incarceration and war on...

On Nov. 4, California voters passed criminal justice reform measure Proposition 47. Proposition 47 changes the lowest level drug possession and petty theft crimes from felonies to simple misdemeanors for some people. Although re-sentencing is not guaranteed, up to 10,000 people in California’s prisons and jails will be eligible for resentencing, and newly sentenced individuals who meet the requirements will be under county jurisdiction.

Sen. Holly Mitchell’s California Fair Sentencing Act, ending crack disparity, becomes...

On Sept. 28, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Fair Sentencing Act (SB 1010) authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles. The legislation eliminates the groundless disparity in sentencing, probation and asset forfeiture guidelines for possession of crack cocaine for sale versus the same crime involving powder cocaine that has resulted in a pattern of racial discrimination in sentencing and incarceration in California. The law takes effect in January.

Alternatives to Jerry Brown’s ‘more cages’ prison plan proposed

Gov. Jerry Brown’s just-proposed plan to ease overcrowding in California prisons without releasing inmates early has drawn quick opposition from prison reform activists across the state and has spawned an alternative approach from a contingent of moderate and liberal Democrats in the state legislature, creating an unusual rift among senior Democrats in the age-old incarceration-rehabilitation divide.

CDCR registers last minute opposition to expanding media access to state...

AB 1270, legislation that would increase transparency and media access to California’s notorious state prison system, is currently facing opposition in the Senate Appropriations Committee. CDCR is formally opposing the bill, citing cost as their main concern. There are two ways that you can help: Attend a Lobby Day on Aug. 9 or phone committee members from home before Aug. 13.

Senate Committee on Public Safety votes to lift the media access...

Today, residents throughout the state celebrate as AB1270, a bill to lift the media access ban in California prisons, passed the Senate Committee on Public Safety in a 4-2 vote. Since 1996, media have been prohibited from choosing their interview subjects inside prisons, and nine versions of this bill have been vetoed by three different governors.

Obama’s drug war

Among the very few people celebrating our country’s fiscal crisis are criminal justice reformers. Bill Piper of Drug Policy Alliance says, “Next year is probably an unprecedented opportunity to defund the federal drug war.” But colorblind cost-benefit approaches leave intact the racial attitudes, stereotypes and anxieties that gave rise to the system in the first place.

Scott sisters to be freed! Gov. Barbour demands a kidney for...

At long last the Scott sisters will be free! Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, based on public pressure, used his commutation powers to grant the sisters their freedom. He suspended Jamie and Gladys Scott's double life sentences for taking part in an $11 armed robbery. The women have always maintained their innocence. This good news is the people’s victory! Listen to Minister of Information JR's Block Report with the Scott sisters' attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, broadcast Dec. 30 on Flashpoints.

A holiday miracle for children of incarcerated parents

In Arms Reach in Harlem, directed by Terrance Stevens, who is paralyzed, focuses on mentoring at risk youth and children with incarcerated parent(s), providing one-on-one mentoring, after-school tutoring, college preparation courses, creative development through art and music and free prison visitation services.

Blacks, prison and joblessness

“This system treats us like throw-away people,” says Carolyn Brown, a Seattle volunteer with prison reform group Justice Works! An African American with a record, her effort to find a job is deeply frustrating due to systemic racism.

Educate or incarcerate: why slash schools to keep nonviolent lifers in...

California's extremely overcrowded prison system is draining state funds that would normally be used for education. Yet legislators continue to portray non-violent three-strike inmates as dangerous criminals who deserve to serve a life sentence for crimes that would have ordinarily carried six months to one year in the county jail.

Latest News

As COVID-19 enters Santa Rita Jail, Sheriff Ahern stealthily pursues $255M...

Just over a week into the “shelter in place” directive that is now statewide, COVID-19 has reached Santa Rita Jail. Alameda County confirmed on March 26 that a nurse working in one of the jail’s housing units has tested positive for the virus.

Let my people go! A call to release all US prisoners...

U.S. officials have often criticized Iran’s prison conditions. As awful as the prison conditions in Iran may be, Amerika, the proclaimed bastion of freedom and democracy, is much worse. Shane Bauer, the Amerikan captured and imprisoned for two years in Iran, bore witness to this.

Can COVID-19 take down NATO?

DEFENDER Europe 20, NATO’s latest anti-Russian war games, began in February. On March 13, the German army announced that it would not participate and withdrew its troops for fear of spreading the coronavirus. On March 11, Norway’s armed forces canceled Cold Response, more anti-Russian war games.

Recommendations for release, transition and care for people inside

Following up on “Justice organizations call on California Gov. Newsom to act now to reduce COVID-19 risks in state prisons,” The Justice Collaborative sent these more specific and detailed recommendations to key members of Gov. Newsom’s administration.

Outside organizers start a hotline to support incarcerated people through the...

We encourage incarcerated people and family members to call 510-301-9403 or email prisonsareunhealthy@protonmail.com with any urgent information regarding the status of COVID-19 inside prisons, jails, detention and so-called medical facilities.