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In this issue:Gov. Brown signs bills that may reduce incarceration in California Legislation addressing school-to-prison pipeline, drug sentencing become law

Thanks to the tireless efforts of advocates and legislative leaders in Sacramento, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law several bills that may help reduce unnecessary incarceration in California, including some that could have a significant impact on racial disparities. 

Bills supported by CJCJ and signed into law include:

  • SB 1010 (Mitchell): Eliminates the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
  • AB 420 (Dickinson): Eliminates the vague and subjective infraction of willful defiance” as grounds for suspension or expulsion.
  • SB 1038 (Leno): Makes the sealing of juvenile court records automatic.
  • ACR 155 (Bocanegra): Urges the Legislature and Governor to recognize evidence-based solutions for mitigating children’s exposure to adverse experiences. 
  • SB 2060 (V. Manuel Pérez): Allocates resources from the Recidivism Reduction Fund for workforce training for the re-entry population through a new competitive grant program.

Brown has until midnight tonight to make decisions on the remaining bills, including AB 2276 (Bocanegra), which would help justice-involved youth transition to their local schools. Check out the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color’s policy action page to urge Brown to sign the remaining bills.

New CJCJ report analyzes impact of marijuana reform All-ages decriminalization has a bigger impact on arrests than 21+ legalization

As policymakers and the American public grow increasingly weary of the War on Drugs, marijuana reforms are gaining traction across the nation. A new analysis by CJCJ sheds light on the strengths and weaknesses of two approaches to marijuana law reform: decriminalization for all ages, versus legalization for people 21 and over. 

The analysis compares five states that implemented major marijuana reforms over the last five years, evaluating the reforms’ impacts on marijuana arrests, racial disparities, and various health and safety outcomes. California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have decriminalized small quantities of marijuana for all ages, while Colorado and Washington have legalized small quantities of the substance for people 21 and older.

Key findings:

  • States that decriminalized marijuana for all ages experienced the largest decreases in marijuana arrests or cases, led by drops among young people and for low-level possession. 
  • Staggering racial disparities remain — and in some cases are exacerbated — following marijuana reforms. African Americans are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses after reform than all other races and ethnicities were before reform.
  • Marijuana decriminalization in California has not resulted in harmful consequences for teenagers, such as increased crime, drug overdose, driving under the influence, or school dropout.

Given the consequences of marijuana arrest, including fines, jail time, a criminal record, loss of student loans and other federal aid, and court costs, getting arrested for marijuana use may be more harmful than the drug itself — at any age. The report recommends adopting the best of both approaches and moving toward full legalization. Further reforms, beyond marijuana policies, will be necessary to address egregious and persistent racial disparities.

Read the full report »

Proposition 47 could generate significant cost savings for counties CJCJ analysis estimates freed jail capacity and cost savings at county level

A new brief from CJCJ examines the potential county-level savings and jail population reductions that could result from Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, which would reclassify low-level property and drug offenses as misdemeanors and will appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot. 

Every year, Los Angeles County could save between $99.9 million and $174.8 million, San Diego County between $28.4 million and $49.7 million, and San Joaquin County between $6.8 million and $12.0 million due to the implementation of Proposition 47.

Most of these potential savings could accrue from reduced jail populations due to shorter sentences: Annually, 2,497 to 7,490 jail beds could be freed in Los Angeles County, 710 to 2,131 jail beds in San Diego County, and 171 to 513 jail beds in San Joaquin County.

Read the summary »

Read the full report »

Volunteers needed for new Cameo House playroom Program seeks people to support children of justice-involved mothers

Cameo House, San Francisco’s first alternative sentencing program for women with children, is seeking volunteers for its new playroom. 

The residential program allows women with criminal convictions to remain in the community with their children and receive the support and services necessary to build lives outside of the criminal justice system. 

Cameo House’s child-centered programming addresses the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of each child that lives at the facility, helping to break the inter-generational cycle of incarceration. Central to this programming is the playroom, where volunteers help provide an environment that is fun and interactive for children of all ages. Volunteers can receive child clinical hours as MFT and ASW interns, as well as Project 20 hours. 

For more information, contact Jerry Cervantes at jcervantes@​cjcj.​org, or call 4157030600.

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