Justice Reinvestment Moving Forward
By Beth Gunston, Strategic Partnerships Director
In 2014 Oakland Rising ran a voter education campaign to help pass Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act, which converted six non-violent felonies into misdemeanors. As a member of the Justice Reinvestment Coalition (JRC), we work with a coalition of allies to build political support for directing the savings generated from Prop 47 into community-based re-entry services in Alameda County – not jails. We also help to ensure that people eligible for resentencing under Prop 47 receive information about and access to the resources to make it happen. Through the JRC’s Legal Empowerment Clinics, we are:
- co-sponsoring events with local organizations including community colleges for formerly incarcerated and justice-systems-impacted students; and
- providing legal services through the Alameda County Public Defender’s office and the East Bay Community Law Center.
Last Fall we made further progress when the JRC won a guarantee from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to create 1,400 jobs for formerly-incarcerated people. During this development period of the 1,400 Jobs Initiative, we are pushing the county to grant waivers to individuals who meet a certain baseline so that they may bypass the job readiness program and get to work right away. We are very close to achieving this as the county just created a new classification for this program which will provide a special designation to employ people with full pay and benefits before passing civil exams. Those who qualify can remain in that classification for 12-24 months, allowing time to train and prepare to pass the civil service exams.
We will continue to find ways to decrease the county’s spending on incarceration and increase its investments in opportunities our community.