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In this issue: CJCJ cautions against leaving youth out of marijuana policy reform

State convening explores social justice implications for marijuana reform

When it comes to marijuana policy reform, one issue tends to unite both sides of the debate: Keeping marijuana out of the hands of youth. But as CJCJ argued at a February 9 convening, Marijuana and Social Justice: Implications for Regulation in California,” hosted by Drug Policy Alliance, arresting youth for marijuana possession is often more harmful than the drug itself.

While several states have legalized marijuana for people 21 and over, possession of the drug remains a criminal offense for everyone under that age. Young people in possession of marijuana for personal use in these states with legalized” marijuana can be arrested, jailed, ordered to mandatory treatment, and marked by criminal records. Meanwhile, in states like California, where the drug is decriminalized for all ages, people cannot be arrested for marijuana possession in most circumstances, no matter what age — even though the drug is technically illegal. 

According to CJCJ’s recent report on the issue, states that decriminalized marijuana for all ages experienced the largest decreases in marijuana arrests, led by drops among young people and for low-level possession. Moreover, even though some surveys say marijuana use is up in California, decriminalization has not resulted in harmful consequences for teenagers, such as increased crime, drug overdose, driving under the influence, or school dropout. 

Full report »

Why caution should be used in interpreting marijuana use surveys »

Implementing Prop 47: Helping our clients change their records

New law changes drug possession and petty theft to misdemeanors

On November 4, California voters ushered in a substantial reform, affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Proposition 47 changes many low-level offenses, including drug possession and petty-theft-related offenses, from felonies to misdemeanors — no matter how much time has passed since the offense occurred. But records are not changed automatically, so CJCJ is reaching out to its clients to make sure those who are eligible benefit from the reform.

Several CJCJ programs, including our San Francisco Training Partnership and Homeless Employment Collaborative programs, which help formerly incarcerated people find and maintain employment, now incorporate Proposition 47 implementation into their curricula, helping their clients reclassify felony convictions from their records and thus clear a major barrier to housing, jobs, services, loans, and more.

FAQ on changing your record under Proposition 47 »

Step by step: How to reclassify your felony »

My Prop 47 »

Advocates push state agency to take on juvenile justice issues

State agency influences whether counties build jails or non-secure facilities

California’s Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) is arguably one of the most powerful criminal justice agencies in the state, yet substantial juvenile justice issues are infrequently part of meeting agendas, let alone the broader discussion. 

On February 12, the BSCC Board met in Ventura and heard enthusiastic public comment, in which advocates from the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Children’s Defense Fund — California, National Center for Youth Law, PICO California, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, and others encouraged the Board to address juvenile justice issues at every meeting. Speakers highlighted the substantial changes in California’s juvenile justice system amid juvenile realignment and greater understanding of trauma-informed care, positive youth development, and community-based alternatives to incarceration.Ultimately, the Board listened to the public, approving a motion to have regular juvenile justice updates.

Public engagement is increasingly important at these meetings. The Board is currently overseeing $500 million in construction funding for adult justice facilities, and will soon be overseeing the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund, which may top $100 million for substance abuse and mental health treatment facilities. Advocates may be able to influence the committee to use these precious public resources to fund innovative and evidence-based non-secure facilities, rather than building new jails and continuing to overincarcerate California citizens. 

The next BSCC Board meeting is on April 9 in Sacramento and public attendance is strongly encouraged. Contact us to get involved.

Read about the February 12 meeting »