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Last week, the community groups, advocate organizations, and young people of color who compose the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color visited Sacramento to meet with legislators, discuss policy, and request that community leaders have input in decisions affecting their neighborhoods.

Advocates also attended the Fifth Annual Capitol Hearing for the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color. The Select Committee is comprised of 11 state assembly members from across California who focus on issues affecting boys and men of color, and potentially create legislation to address those issues.

Rob Bonta, co-chair of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, speaks to young people

At the August 24th hearing, members heard panel presentations on public safety, among other topics, and what affects boys and men of color. Youth leaders from across the state testified before the Committee about their journeys and struggles, and advocated for community solutions. 

Juan Julio, a youth leader from Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color, shared his story about being touched by the juvenile justice system, and finding healing after becoming involved in a restorative justice program called Joven Noble.

It completely changed my world,” said Juan, it changed my state of mind, it just starting putting my world back together; it taught me about me about myself, my roots, my family, everything.”

Juan Julio urged the Select Committee members to support these kinds of community-based, restorative justice programs that allowed him to stay involved in school and the community, while receiving instruction and treatment.

Members of the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color

The Select Committee also heard the goals for the distribution of Proposition 47 savings. Proposition 47, passed in November 2014, is estimated to save California between $400 million and $700 million per year. Sixty-five percent of these savings will be distributed by the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) beginning in July 2016.

During the public safety panel, BSCC Chair, Linda Penner, spoke on Proposition 47: I heard loud and clear from the dais already a concern about [community-based organizations] being represented in that arena, I am here to tell you that we will produce for you an executive steering committee that will represent the diverse population of California.”

The BSCC has historically included majorities of law enforcement professionals on its executive steering committees, or ESCs” (the bodies that decide the how legislated funds will be disbursed), and supported amendments to remove requirements from a bill (AB 1056) that would have compelled the BSCC to appoint formerly incarcerated individuals and community leaders to the Proposition 47 ESC.

CJCJ’s Brian Goldstein said to the Select Committee, Frankly we wish there was more confidence in the community when it came to the BSCC. We have serious concerns about the agency’s transparency and community engagement. They oversee billions of dollars in funding including Prop. 47 and we hope that they will look to community service providers, formerly incarcerated individuals, researchers, advocates, as they continue to make very important decisions.”

CJCJ’s Brian Goldstein addresses the Select Committee

The BSCC will begin choosing the members for the Proposition 47 ESC in the coming months. The community organizations that provide work to the populations that will be affected by this funding request that they not only to have a say in where the money goes, but that the state invests in the valuable services these organizations provide.