Reentry and AB 109
June 11, 2020
For the first time in the nine years of implementing AB 109, the state allotments to California‘s counties have been decreased rather than increased. Alameda County‘s allotment for FY 19/20 was $50.4 million. But for FY 20/21 it will be $42.5 million. That nearly $8 million reduction from state funds means a loss of $4 million to the CBO’s 50% share for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.
The JRC has initiated discussions on reframing the AB 109 Campaign from the narrower AB 109 population of individuals incarcerated for lower-level felony crimes to the ‘Reentry Campaign’ that seeks to address the needs and to advocate for ALL formerly incarcerated individuals. A reframed campaign will engage more broadly JRC members who provide reentry case management support and restorative healing circles for participants returning home from jail and prison. Also, it will provide that support to individuals who have been home for long periods of time, but still face substantial reentry barriers. Perhaps this reframing process can be on the agenda for our upcoming retreat.
Next Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) AB109 & Prop 47 Task Force Meetings for the rest of June & July:
- June 25, CCP Program and Services Workgroup, 10 AM
- July 1, CCP Process and Evaluation Workgroup, 10 AM
- July 7, CCP Fiscal and Procurement Workgroup, 3 PM
- July 15, CCP Countywide Strategic Plan I Implementation Meeting, 3 PM
- July 20, CCP Executive Committee, 1 PM
- July 23, CCP Programs and Services Workgroup 5 PM
- July 27, Prop 47 Task Force, Local Advisory Committee, 7 PM
(see AC Probation website calendar for meeting details, agendas, attachments & Microsoft Teams links)
Urban Strategies Coalition
SAVE MONEY, SAVE LIVES—AUDIT SHERIFF AHERN
"I’m concerned about troubling reports that have emerged surrounding the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO). Alameda County residents deserve full transparency and accountability, and I fully support community members in their request for an independent financial and performance audit of the ACSO." - Senator Nancy Skinner
Why an Audit?
Over the past 10 years, the Alameda County jail population has decreased by half—so why has Sheriff Ahern's budget continued to grow by $144 million in the last decade, totalling $443 million in 2019? Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, who is also the county coroner, has few restrictions and little oversight to his power.
A full and independent audit of the ACSO would provide an opportunity for our county officials to reallocate resources toward services that improve our health and wellbeing, and ensure our safety.
$100,000 would provide 1,000 HIV tests in community-based clinics.
$1.3M would provide after-school programming to 1,000 students for 1 year.
$27.8M would house over 1000 individuals in a market-rate apartment for a year.
$10M would house 300 of Alameda County's poorest families for a year in a subsidized apartment.
"We the People have the power and responsibility to hold our electeds acountable . They work for the people. We pay their salary. We voted them into office. So it is our responiblitiy to hold them to a higher standard." - Danny Thongsy
The Justice Reinvestment Coaltion of Alameda County have been partnering with Urban Peace Movement in holding the Alameda County District Attorney's Office accountable in their judicial pratices. The UPM youth leaders have been an integral part of this effort in Alameda County to educate voters and community members about the power and discretion of the District Attorney to either further the system of mass incarceration or create policies and practices that disrupt the current system and push both youth and adults towards alternatives to incarceration!! The DA’s Office has so much decision making power and in many ways they function like the gate-keepers of the criminal justice system.
UPM youth members and the JRC conducted community outreach (through phoning and door knocking) reaching thousands of community members, helped to lead 3 town hall meetings engaging over 1000 community members, and participated in a series of research meetings with the likes of the SF County DA, the two DA Candidates for Alameda County, the Alameda County Public Defender, the Presiding Juvenile Judge, and various other advocates and systems leaders. Through this work, youth from UPM along with our community partners in the Justice Reinvestment Coalition have won agreements from the DA’s Office to lower probation terms and to cease prosecuting youth for misdemeanors. Additionally Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley has agreed to meet with us regularly in order to work through further systems change efforts and to report out data to the community about changes that have already taken place.
We all lose when we shut out thousands of people from being part of our economy....The County must take the necessary steps to put formerly incarcerated people on a path to success.”- Dr. Prince White
Bridging the gap to quality, livable wage jobs for formerly incarcerated workers
The Justice Reinvestment Coalition has worked hard in ensuring that the 1400 jobs for formerly incarcerated workers is seeing some progress and forward movement with help from Alameda County Administration toward our goal of 1400 jobs, but we need the Board of Supervisors to do more toward this effort. Two years ago on June 28th, 2016 the Alameda County Board of Supervisors made a groundbreaking commitment to create hundreds of quality, long-term, County jobs for formerly incarcerated community members through a program called “Jobs for Freedom.” This commitment came after community groups working together through the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County pushed the County to think creatively about how to create opportunities that help turn the tide on mass incarceration and help formerly incarcerated people transition out of the system successfully.
Over the last 5 years, Alameda County’s Santa Rita and Glenn Dyer jails have experienced a decreased average daily population of 1,400 beds per year due to community-led reforms to the criminal justice system and efforts to turn the tide on mass incarceration. Legislative advances like AB109, SB 678 and Proposition 47 have provided the impetus for such changes, yet research shows that without gainful employment, formerly incarcerated people are likely to reenter the system. Since the creation of the program, the county has currently hired 6 people with another 4 going into jobs in early September hired They have identified another 30 plus vacancies in the Program Worker classification that formerly incarcerated workers participating in the program can fill. Up to this point Alameda County has leveraged one private sector employer, a cold storage facility to participate in this program and that is expected to bring another 10–20 jobs this year alone. For us to get to 1400 jobs we need the county to leverage the relationships it has with other public and private employers to commit to hire formerly incarcerated residents into jobs as well.
People who have convictions or even arrests without conviction, face enormous barriers to employment. We know that incarceration leads up to a 30% decline in one’s chances of employment post release. We also know that 90% of employers utilize criminal background checks resulting in a 50% decrease in hiring callbacks for those with arrests or convictions on their record. And, there are hundreds of thousands of Alameda County residents who have been impacted by the criminal justice system.
The Alameda County Re-Entry Hiring Program was approved in 2016 and we still need the Board of Supervisors to keep the promise of getting more employers that pay a livable wage to get involved in the program. Due to the county’s low turnover rate, we need more public and private employers to commit to hiring workers who have past participation in the criminal justice system.
In 2016, the Justice Reinvestment Coalition, consisting of 15 community and faith based organizations came together and served as a united front that helped gain victories in various criminal justice reform policies. During this period there were many JRC issues on the table that the organizations in the coalition were fighting at this time such as the ‘Sugar Tax’, AB109, Prop 47, and Ban-the-Box just to mention a few. The focus on a jobs campaign was important, as it brought to fruition many of the battles that were being waged at the time. This coalition’s push for Alameda County to step in as leader in providing employment that would allow formerly incarcerated people to earn a livable wage, was an uphill battle. Although the JRC had allies within the county, there were also many obstacles and barriers that made a seemingly simple process very difficult. Now with county’s hiring of a new HR Director Joseph Angelo, and the involvement of Probation Chief Wendy Still many of these obstacles are being overcome and the program is finally getting on track.
The initiative utilizes a proven model developed by folks that have experience navigating this system to provide leadership development, reduction of employment barriers, mentorship and court advocacy for participants that have continued contact with the criminal justice system. Building from successful employment models in Alameda County, the Jobs for Freedom Initiative has paved the way for programs such as Bay Area Black Worker Centers’ job readiness training referred to as the Northstar program and other community led job readiness programs to be a feeder to livable wage jobs in Alameda County as well as private employers that offer comparable jobs.
The JRC is moving closer to the goal of increasing access to quality, livable wage jobs for and reducing employment barriers for formerly incarcerated people in Alameda county. As we continue to partner with Alameda County, we need leadership from the Board of Supervisors to bring their public and private and sector allies in the to join as additional employers in order to increase the number of jobs workers can apply for. There are thousands of formerly incarcerated Alameda County residents who deserve the chance to have gainful employment and get their lives on track. It’s time to make the promise into a reality and take this program to scale!
- Keith Snodgrass