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Reform L.A. Jails Coalition Makes History and Turns in Over 246K Signatures  
By Sentinel News Service 
Published August 2, 2018

Jasmyne Cannick and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Cullors during the Reform L.A. Jails Coalition. (courtesy photo)

The Reform L.A. Jails coalition turned in more than 246,000 signatures to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk today calling for its criminal justice reform legislation initiative to be placed on California’s March 2020 Presidential Primary ballot.   

The initiative if passed will pave the way for Civilian Oversight Commission to effectively investigate deputy misconduct by providing them the power to subpoena deputy testimony and evidence and mandate as alternatives to incarceration for vulnerable populations be studied and prioritized over building new jails in an effort to ease jail overcrowding and recidivism particularly among mentally ill and homeless populations.   

The initiative’s ballot language was approved in March of this year and shortly afterward, the campaign began its 180-day countywide signature collection effort using both volunteer and paid signature collectors.  In just 131 days, over 246,000 signatures were collected and 9,248 new voters were registered. 

“Today we’re making history and herstory,” Campaign Director Jasmyne Cannick told a group of several dozen volunteers and supporters.  “I say herstory because we are gathered here based on the vision of women in our community–Black women–who said we’ve got a problem and this is what we’re going to do about it and we got it done.  That’s important to recognize because it’s rare to have ballot measure campaign headed up by Black women–even in a state as progressive as California.” 

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors led the coalition of prison experts, public safety and criminal justice reform leaders, residents, business owners, religious leaders and the community at large. 

“Today is a game changer,” added Cullors.  “ Voters have said that in the midst of allegation of deputies operating internally as gang members and claims of a secret gang society among the sheriff’s department’s ranks and amid ever increasing allegations of sexual misconduct involving deputies in L.A. County jails–that they want answers.  Voters told us that they want to prioritize alternatives to incarceration for the homeless, mentally ill and other vulnerable populations and they told us they want it now.”  

Cannick added, “Voters have said that criminal justice reform isn’t just about police killings and police brutality, but it’s also about changing a system the doesn’t value the lives of people of color whether we’re the suspect or the victim.” 

The campaign is proud to have the support from both national and local advocacy organizations including the ACLU, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, Dignity and Power Now, Community Coalition, White People 4 Black Lives and Real Justice PAC. 

Campaign director Jasmyne Cannick (coutesy photo)

The campaign was required by law to turn in 10% of the votes cast for Governor in 2014—146,333. Over 246,000 signatures were submitted to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. 100,000 more than needed to qualify for the ballot. 

Once the signatures are certified by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, the Board of Supervisors must do one of three things: 

  •     Adopt the Reform L.A. Jails Initiative, without alteration, at the regular meeting at which the certification of the petition is presented, or within 10 days after it is presented. 
  •     Submit the Reform L.A. Jails Initiative, without alteration, to the voters for a vote.  
  • Order a report pursuant at the regular meeting at which the certification of the petition is presented. When the report is presented to the Board of Supervisors, the Board will either adopt the Reform Jails and Community Reinvestment Initiative within 10 days or order an election. 

For more information about the ballot initiative, including full language of the proposed law, please visit www.ReformLAJails.com.  

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