Communities Continue Push for Prison and Jail Moratorium

For Immediate Release—December 9, 2011
Communities Continue Push for Prison and Jail Moratorium

California – On Monday December 12, people from communities across California will be paying lawmakers a visit to demand a moratorium on
prison and jail expansion. California’s massive prison system has become
internationally notorious for its Supreme Court-condemned overcrowding
crisis, deadly health conditions, and tens of billions of dollars of
costs. As California plans further cuts to education, healthcare, and
jobs–and with responsibility for low-level prisoners being shifted from
state to county–many fear a new round of jail expansion and the growth of
county sheriffs’ budgets at the expense of other county programs.
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), an alliance of
organizations and communities from across the state, are leading Monday’s
trip to Sacramento and hope to work with politicians to solve California’s
prison crisis.

“When we think of visiting politicians and suggesting plans that will help
solve the intimately connected budget crisis and prison crisis, we hope
that the depth of the ongoing crises opens the Legislature to think about
something different,” says Emily Harris, statewide coordinator for CURB.
“We’re in a horribly deep hole caused by 30 years of building prisons. It
is past time to stop digging and to change course. We are going to have
working people from across the state taking time off their jobs to talk
with our lawmakers about solutions and to show them that without a prison
and jail moratorium reforms are doomed. Without stopping jail and prison
expansion, programs vital to the well being of all Californians are doomed
for further cuts.” CURB will be pushing state legislators to take up a
moratorium that will prevent California from expanding jail and prison
facilities, while also cancelling the controversial Assembly Bill AB900
which allocates $7.7 billion in prison spending. Much of that money is now
being offered to counties as an incentive to expand their jails.

“For low income California communities, economic and social crisis didn’t
start in 2008—we have seen more jails, and more prisons, and that has meant
more of our families, friends, neighbors, and coworkers locked up. It has
meant more families separated. At the same time we have seen schools close,
jobs disappear, and health plummet,” says Kim McGill of the Youth Justice
Coalition in Inglewood, “But crises are also opportunities. A moratorium on
building more cages allows us to put other options on the table, whether
we’re talking about addressing harm, getting people out the system, or
investing in the wider community.”

During its legislative visits, CURB will be linking a moratorium on jail
and prison expansion with the opportunities to enact basic sentencing
reforms and parole guidelines while outlining a variety of humanitarian
release scenarios that could get thousands of people out of prisons and
jails while saving the state over $5 billion. CURB’s budget and prison
organizing work comes just weeks before California is likely to see
hundreds of millions of dollars in education and health cuts, during an
economic meltdown with a steady double digit unemployment rate. Figures
have also recently been released showing the state’s middle class shrinking
to below 50% and 1 in 4 children living in poverty.

Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
ph. 510 444 0484

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