The state’s plan for spending $12 billion on new jails and prisons has generated wide opposition, according to a leading prisoner advocacy group.
Californians United for a Responsible Budget is fighting AB 900, a state plan to increase the number of prison beds by 53,000, and the group says it is part of a grassroots movement to block the plan.
In its 2012 annual report, CURB said it organized and provided training to 10 groups connected to its operations in order to oppose jail expansion at a Los Angeles Board of Supervisors meeting.
“Los Angeles CURB members organized community mobilizations to reject Sheriff Baca’s $1.4 billion plan to expand L.A. County jails, while working with northern California CURB members to build pressure in Sacramento to halt the plan,” according to the report.
CURB joined forces with All of Us or None, Critical Resistance, and other member organizations in northern California to stop a $140-160 million jail expansion proposal in San Mateo.
“Our member organizations have been leading the struggle against mass incarceration for decades and now our message is finally being heard,” said Emily Harris, CURB’s statewide coordinator.
“Prisons are bankrupting our ability to send youth to college, to develop jobs, to keep libraries, hospitals and parks open,” said Kim McGill in CURB’s annual report, in reference to AB 900 and its $12 billion price tag.
Counties have to make a choice between alternatives to incarceration and jail expansion. The options are to invest in education, or hire more county jailers, according to the report.
“Across all 58 counties, the balance of power between those two visions of the future is playing out on a daily basis,” the report said.
CURB said it was a leader in the push to change the restriction that bans media access to interviewing specific prisoners.
CURB is also involved with the issue of overcrowding in the state prison system.
Along the same line, CURB works with California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement to help raise awareness about the use of isolation as a practice in the prison system.
“The work that CURB does is far greater than just dealing with the issues of solitary confinement, but rather challenges the system to seek rehabilitative efforts, by bringing to light the true cost of prison spending,” said Dolores Canales of CFASC.
According to the report, CURB has a National Advisory Board of criminal justice experts, adding that they are leaders throughout the United States and California.
The Board has a “diverse background in policy change and anti-prison work, including two members who are currently imprisoned,” the report said.
“I have seen our statewide coalition bring a voice of intention and experience to the forefront of change,” said Diana Zuñiga, CURB field organizer.