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California State Capitol Building

Photo by Jimmy Wayne | flickr creative commons

This month California’s policymakers will return to Sacramento and begin addressing some of the state’s pressing justice issues. The public and stakeholders alike should use these different venues to advocate for a more balanced justice system that focuses on alternatives to incarceration and produce positive safety outcomes. In the next two weeks, there are three events that will foretell the tenor of discussion in 2014 and present opportunities for community-based voices.

First, Governor Brown is slated to release his proposed FY 2014 – 15 budget on Friday, January 10 at 9am. You can learn more about details here, when they are released, and watch a live press conference with Governor Brown. How will the governor use funds to support community-based programs that improve public safety and curb recidivism? Or what will the governor do with state’s shrinking youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Facilities?

Second, the respective state Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees will reconvene Tuesday, January 14. These committees will initially review bills that were held either in committee or by their author in 2013. The last day for bills to be introduced is February 21. Advocates should look at these hearings as an opportunity to influence specific policy and create awareness of local challenges and successes.

Third, the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) will meet January 16 in Los Angeles to discuss and vote on a number of state policy issues. The Board will vote on whether to approve a recommendation in how to allocate $500 million for jail construction funding through Senate Bill (SB) 1022. In addition, the Board will also approve a funding strategy for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant funding during FY 2014 – 2017. Hopefully, the Board will approve a balanced strategy that supports successful community-based programs.

2014 promises to be a year of significant legislative activity. The voice of community groups and advocates is necessary to best reflect the changes our state needs to improve public safety.