Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer announced he will oppose Governor Brown’s 29 million dollar allocation to the Prop. 47, the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools fund” in favor of the Legislative Analyst Office’s estimation of $150 million. More than 140 residents gathered at the Community Coalition recently to urge legislation to oppose the Governor’s slashing of the Prop. 47 in the state budget in the upcoming May revise. Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer is the Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
Gov. Brown has proposed to gut the historic criminal justice reform law by slashing its funding from $150 million to $29 million. He also proposes an additional $250 million for prison expansion. Proposition 47 advocates across the state feel the Governor is betraying the voters and have been organizing to fight these changes.
“Governor Brown’s allocation of 29.3 million dollars for crime prevention and treatment services is an affront to the millions of California voters who passed Prop. 47 in favor of criminal justice reform,” says Karren Lane, Vice President of Policy at the Community Coalition, an anchor organization in Southern California that’s leading statewide grassroots efforts to increase the savings.
Prop. 47, the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” of 2014 reclassifies six common petty drug and theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Prop. 47 requires that the state savings be transferred to the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund” to increase prevention and treatment services to improve public safety.
“I will go ahead and get as many Assemblymembers to support the LAO’s formula of 150 million dollars,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer in support of the community’s plans. Jones-Sawyer also mentioned that he would reach out to Senator Loni Hancock to gain support from the Senate and also reach out to other members of the Democractic party.
This comes at the heels of the recent announcement that the Community Coalition has won the endorsement of 60 Clergy, Labor and Civil Rights organizations in its effort for legislative action to reevaluate the savings formula of the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund,” by adopting the framework of the Legislative Analyst Office.
Catherine Clay, a South L.A. resident and Community Coalition leader who has been meeting with legislators locally, talked about the importance of the Prop. 47 savings. “I don’t just believe that the school-to-prison pipeline starts at school. I believe when you have mass incarceration of women, and those women give birth to a child inside of a system, that’s when mass incarcerated starts.”
Clay was thrilled to hear the commitment from Jones-Sawyer, “I’m absolutely fired up. It was really powerful to have our state legislator to be able to come and listen to our concerns.”
More than twenty residents, many who were formerly incarcerated men were able to ask the Assemblymember questions around his plans for reducing recidivism and increasing public safety.
Donell Moore, a volunteer with the Community Coalition was moved by the testimonies from the public comment, “To see a guy who had been locked up from the age of 14, to be able to say face-to-face thank you. That was really powerful.”
The State’s Department of Finance develops their own formula to calculate the savings, but Governor Brown makes the final call. The governor finalizes the budget on July 31 after conferring with Assembly and Senate leaders.
“We are thrilled to hear that we have a champion in Sacramento that will be uplifting the voices of the South L.A. voters. Today was a huge step forward building up to the May revise,” said Lane.