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With President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration and the mass protests throughout the country against the grand jury acquittals of police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo for the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, it is more important than ever for Black and Latino communities to confront racism and the oppressive structures that deny our fundamental humanity and divide us into those who are worthy of justice and those who are not.
The issue of “gender responsiveness” as an excuse to open more prisons has been rearing its ugly head lately with the expansion of CDCR’s supposed “reentry hubs” and “community based facilities,” totaling 4,090 new beds altogether. Yet one woman in the new Female Community Reentry Facility (FCRF) in McFarland recently called Justice Now, saying she feels like “they were sold a dream.”
When Dr. Samuel Cartwright coined the term “drapetomania” in 1864, he advanced a historical agenda to secure Black subjugation in America. The logic underlying the continuation and funding of the mass incarceration of the disproportionately Black mentally ill and Dr. Cartwright’s medical breakthroughs is the same: Black people’s mental health cannot be achieved, so society has to maintain extreme and inhumane restrictions on their freedom.
Santa Cruz County is seen by many as a model for enlightened jail and prison policies. But last month the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released a report on the unusual number of deaths in the county jail in 2012 and 2013 titled “Five Deaths in Santa Cruz: An Investigation of In-Custody Deaths.” The Grand Jury found that a lack of after-hours mental health evaluations and failures to follow procedures on the part of jail staff likely contributed to the deaths.
After the revised proposed state budget was released yesterday, activists from around the state are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to remove the $500 million outlined for jail expansion. With $15 billion in cuts to social safety net programs, prison reform groups like Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) are questioning why the state is increasing spending on prisons and jails instead of social programs and public education.
This week members of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), advocates and activists representing diverse communities are attending the Senate Public Safety and Assembly Budget Committee hearings in Sacramento to speak out against billions in funding for new prison and jail expansion. The Assembly Budget Committee hearing will begin on Wednesday, April 23, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol in Sacramento.