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Merging BSCC leadership roles limits opportunities for reform

On May 15, 2013, Governor Brown submitted a budget trailer bill that makes concerning changes to the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC).

Learning from lifers: sentencing reforms based on empirical evidence

A January 2013 CDCR study finds that “lifers recidivate at markedly lower rates than those who serve determinate sentences.” While this is not necessarily surprising to criminal justice stakeholders, it does raise a data-driven reason for pursuing sentencing reform.

The 4,054 human faces of San Quentin

on March 27, 2013, CJCJ revisited San Quentin State Prison to see what changes had occurred since the implementation of Realignment.

Recognizing the symptoms of trauma in justice-involved youth

Justice-involved youth have complex histories that not only contributed to their delinquency but present challenges for rehabilitation. These compound factors exacerbate a lack of self-confidence, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and mental health issues. 

SFPD and Police Commission tackle racially disparate arrest trends

On January 23, 2013, the San Francisco Police Commission held a public hearing to discuss the city’s arrest data. The result was a refreshing openness to examining the city’s arrest trends for racial disparities and a willingness to work with independent researchers in the community.

Police Commission Hearing, Jan. 23, 2013

CJCJ's testimony to the San Francisco Police Commission regarding the city's 40-year history of increasingly racially disparate arrest practices.

Prosecutorial consistency in process
One of the biggest challenges researchers face when analyzing the effectiveness of the justice system is visibility into the world of the District Attorney. While prosecutors are given broad discretionary power, there are very few requirements regarding tracking how they use it and to what end. However, in December 2012 the Vera Institute published the results of its two-year research project, Anatomy of Discretion , shedding light on this topic. Supported by the National Institute of Justice…
Little Hoover Commission discusses need for sentencing reform
Today, the Little Hoover Commission (LHC) hosted a public hearing on bail and sentencing reform in the State Capitol.  LHC is an independent state oversight agency created in 1962 to investigate state government operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service. As part of an ongoing assessment of public safety in California following AB 109 criminal justice realignment in October 2011, the LHC heard testimony regarding the monetary bail system, alternatives to bail, jail…
County-by-county youth crime trends defy conventional theory
Yesterday, CJCJ launched its California juvenile justice interactive map , displaying a plethora of data regarding local youth arrest and confinement practices by county. This is particularly pertinent given that California's statewide trends are so extraordinary: Youth crime in California is at its lowest level since statewide statistics were first compiled in 1954. The county-by-county data paint a more nuanced picture of juvenile justice in California. Among its 58 counties, the…
No on Prop. 35: The wrong tool for a good cause
Proposition 35, the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (CASE) aims to address the increasing prevalence and public concern regarding human trafficking in California, specifically as it relates to the sexual exploitation of children.  It proposes to do this by greatly increasing the existing sentences and penalties for trafficking offenses, and expands sex offender registration laws, including new mandates to report email addresses and internet usernames. Prop. 35 would also broaden…
Longer sentences for youth do not improve public safety
Pathways to Desistance , a study of serious youth offenders, finds that long institutional commitments do not reduce recidivism and in fact can have the opposite effect.  The study follows over 1,300 youth convicted of serious felonies (inc. murder, robbery, and sex offenses) across the country over a seven-year period. A September 2012 factsheet  from the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) summarizes the latest findings of the study: ~ A youth's future likelihood to re-offend cannot…
San Francisco Police Department upgrading data collection system
On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, the San Francisco Police Commission met to discuss a range of issues, including the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD)'s faulty and problematic system of collecting arrest data. Recently highlighted by the Bay Citizen , San Francisco County is the only county of 58 in California that does not accurately report the arrests of Hispanic residents. CJCJ noted this data limitation in an April 2012 publication documenting a 40+ year pattern of racially…
Overcrowded jails, the bail industry, and pretrial alternatives

This month is the Justice Policy Institute (JPI)'s Bail Reform Month . Their national public education campaign provides research showing that "money bail is a failed policy that does not protect public safety" and leads to unnecessary incarceration in local jails. If you have been following criminal justice realignment in California, this issue is of foremost importance. In California, approximately 71% of the jail population is unsentenced. Many of the detainees are in detention simply…

Prop. 36 is a modest and necessary three-strikes reform
Proposition 36 is a balanced reform measure that promotes long-term public safety. The Proposition amends California's Three Strikes Law to: ~ Require that the 3rd strike be a violent or serious offense (except in certain sex, drug, and weapons possession cases) ~ Allow nonviolent 3rd strike inmates to petition the court for a resentencing hearing (unless they have a prior conviction for rape, murder, or child molestation) The reform would bring California into line with the 26 other states…
San Francisco data collection needs upgrade
An article in the Bay Citizen today sheds much needed light on the importance and lack of accurate data collection in San Francisco.  In particular, the article notes the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) underreports the arrests of Latino and Asian residents (the city's two largest minority groups) by misclassifying them at "white" or "other."  These inaccuracies have significant repercussions that effect not only law enforcement, but policymakers, and local residents.  For example in…
Red Rose Culinary Academy off to a delicious start
The Red Rose Culinary Academy is an innovative program from Brothers for Change, Inc .  Led by head chef Henry Howard, the program is designed to enable formerly incarcerated individuals to engage in vocational and academic training in the food industry, which will eventually lead to sustainable employment.  The 16-week culinary arts course prepares students with the skills necessary to enter the food industry workforce upon graduation.  Curriculum modules include a strong foundation in the…
Charging youths as adults in California, 2003-2010
Charging youths as adults in California, 2003-2010
California's myriad sentencing practices
Yesterday, CJCJ launched the California Sentencing Institute's (CASI) new interface that allows for quicker, easier visual representations of California's statewide sentencing practices.  Immediately apparent upon visiting the site are the huge sentencing disparities among California's 58 counties.  Further exploration of the site indicates various interesting trends. For example, while Kings County is ranked at the top of every metric related to use of state prison, it is not the highest…
Collateral Consequences of Interstate Transfer of Prisoners
Collateral Consequences of Interstate Transfer of Prisoners
"Life after Murder" by Nancy Mullane
"Life after Murder" follows five individuals serving life with the possibility of parole in California's San Quentin prison and upon their eventual release back into the Bay Area.  Inmates serving life with the possibility of parole sentences are required to appear before a parole board and prove that they no longer present a danger to society before they are granted release.  The parole board comprises law enforcement and corrections professionals who are appointed by the Governor.  During…
Trimming the Juvenile Justice Fat
Trimming the Juvenile Justice Fat California Progress Report, May 30, 2012
Trimming the Juvenile Justice Fat
Trimming the Juvenile Justice Fat Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, May 29, 2012
What does juvenile justice for "the 99%" look like?
The National Lawyer's Guild Western Regional Conference on Saturday, April 28th, featured a panel on "Realignment and Juvenile Justice in California."  The one day conference centered on the prominent "Occupy" movement and focused on the future of the socially and economically disenfranchised.  It asked, what does justice for the 99% look like? Youth comprise one of the most vulnerable and pertinent populations for this discussion.  They are marginalized in the political process and their…
San Francisco's war on drugs, "Stop chasing my children"
The Human Rights Commission hearing on the Human Rights Impact of the War on Drugs last week provided a broad spectrum of perspectives and information on how San Franciscans are affected by drug law enforcement. The hearing commenced with testimony from Alice Huffman, President of the California NAACP, who underlined the racially targeted history of the drug war, beginning in 1914 and including the 1920's failed prohibition of alcohol.   Following, Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal…
The Human Rights Impact of the War on Drugs
The Human Rights Impact of the War on Drugs, April 12, 2012

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