Prisons


California Counties, Realignment, and Crime Trends: 58 Different Stories

By Mike Males

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

California prisons hold around 30,000 fewer inmates today than 30 months ago, the result of AB 109’s Public Safety Realignment. Realignment mandated that as of October 1, 2011, tens of thousands of non-violent, lower-level offenders who formerly would have been sent to state prison must be “realigned” to local criminal justice systems.

Civil Immigration Detention is Not an Appropriate Use of Local Jails

By Brian Goldstein

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

Should federal immigration enforcement consume finite local public safety resources and capacity? As California mulls this question, consider that Governor Brown is expanding the state’s reliance on private prison as a last minute solution to federal mandates, while some county sheriffs request jail construction funding to overhaul local facilities. Now is not the time for California’s local jails to unnecessarily hold those suspected of violating civil immigration laws.

More Humane Practices Needed for California's Toughest Prisons

By Tom Ammiano

California State Assemblymember

People in maximum security prisons are not warm and fuzzy types, but that doesn’t excuse the California prison system for abusing their rights.

Even if we don’t like prisoners, there are reasons we should care about the prisoner hunger strike that ended earlier this month. Human rights apply to everyone. Let me tell you about it:

Prisoners have been complaining about conditions the SHUs – Secure Housing Units – for years. In fact, there was another hunger strike two years ago. Shane Bauer, a freelance reporter who was once held prisoner by the Iranian government, visited the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison and discovered it compared unfavorably with what he experienced under the Iranians.

California's Sentencing Quagmire

By Kate McCracken

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

Broken, ineffective, and unsustainable. These are all words used by Attorney General Eric Holder to describe our criminal justice system. It is an accurate description for a system that over incarcerates and has high rates of disproportionate minority contact. Holder went further to state,

“It’s time – in fact, it’s well past time – to address persistent needs and unwarranted disparities by considering a fundamentally new approach.”

Steinberg's Prison Plan

Author Brian LeubitzBy Brian Leubitz

The prisons are a mess. However, things can get worse. My friend, and SF School Board member, Matt Haney co-authored an op-ed in the SF Chronicle with Van Jones about the governor's position on the issue:

Gov. Jerry Brown confirmed this week that he is pulling his prison policies out of a 1980s playbook. It is heartbreaking to watch our nation's most famous Democratic governor cling to outdated, lock 'em up notions that even conservatives are abandoning in droves.

Troubled Young People Deserve Compassion, Not Punishment

By Lizzie Buchen


Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

At the turn of the 20th Century, Lucy Flower, my grandmother’s great grandmother, established the world’s first juvenile court inside the Cook County courthouse in central Chicago.

Flower, who had been orphaned, was horrified by the misery and bleak futures of the city’s poorest children, and believed their criminal behaviors should be handled differently than that of adults. She and the other early “child-savers” viewed children and young teenagers as victims, neglected by their parents and by society, who still had the potential to get their lives on track. After finding success in Chicago, separate courts for young people, which focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment, were soon established nationwide.

Brown Can Release Prisoners Early Without Compromising Public Safety

By Lizzie Buchen

After a year of defying court orders to alleviate the state’s prison crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown seems to have finally pushed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to its limit. In an April 11 ruling, having already "exercised exceptional restraint," the exasperated federal judges declared the state "will not be allowed to continue to violate the requirements of the Constitution of the United States," giving Brown until May 2 to develop a plan that will reduce the prison population by nearly 10,000 people by the end of the year.

Cracking the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By Anthony Asadullah Samad

There has been another raging discussion taking place over the past couple months, that of the school-to-prison pipeline. How many different ways can we say that the absence of investment in America's intellectual capital causes - even promotes - devastating social consequences? And how many different ways can we assess the racial consequences of misapplied forms of social control? No, there are no more "whites only" or "colored only" signs, which causes society to suggest that we are a more racially homogenous society. Yes, we do come together on some levels today. But the most common way in which we come together is on anti-intellectual levels.

Fixing California's Mass Incarceration Mess

By Dick Price

As California grapples with a prison system so broken that the U.S. Supreme Court has mandated reductions in the number of prisoners it holds, the three-part "Smart Justice: Rethinking Public Safety in California" discussion begun this past week at the University of Southern California is examining both consequences and possible solutions to the state's mass incarceration mess.

After Delay, Ammiano Arrives Today at Pelican Bay

By Dan Aiello

After more than two months delay, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, arrives today at one of California's Maximum Security correctional facilities to see for himself the progress the State's prison system is making to address concerns of judges and reform advocates for the care of incarcerated Californians.

Earlier this year Ammiano likened California's 33 prisons to "Gladiator Academies," where Californians incarcerated for homelessness, victimless crimes like drug possession and those with mental illness must choose between "being victimized or victimizing others."