California State Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D-18th District), who represents Oakland, Alameda, and Emeryville, visited San Quentin with Gov. Gavin Newsom and other VIPs when he announced the transformation of the prison into the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center under the California Model.
The group came to pronounce the governor’s vision of reimagining the prison as the new face of rehabilitation.
“Ask yourself, what condition do you want them to rejoin our communities,” said Bonta, referring to the incarcerated people once they make parole.
Bonta came into office after defeating Janani Ramachandran in a 2021 special election.
The Assemblywoman, with her husband, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, came into their respective offices with a mission to help reform the prison landscape. They also both employee formerly incarcerated people, helping to shatter stigmas and stereotypes.
At San Quentin, Bonta stated that she will work with the governor and legislators to ensure that when the incarcerated parole, they will have the rehabilitation, training, and resources they need to not return to the carceral system again.
Bonta was inspired to become a public servant in college. She has a bachelor’s in Psychology from Yale, a master’s from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a law degree from Yale Law School.
Bonta is also the CEO of Oakland Promise, a nonprofit that provides a cradle-to-college support program focused on the city’s low-income students. In 2018, she was elected to the Alameda School Board.
“When you think kind of larger on what’s happening across the state of California, that’s why it’s incredibly important for us to have more [Black women in public office],” she said, reflecting her values of inclusion.
Bonta is a member of the Black Caucus and is the first Black Latina to serve in the California legislature.
“We know our stories, we have a commonality of experience, we have a perspective that is not held here,” she added. “We know what it’s like to be undervalued and overlooked, and we bring that to these halls. I think it makes us very uniquely qualified and positioned to be able to do the work of this state.”
At the press event at San Quentin, Bonta talked with residents and stood with the governor and others who share her ideas about rehabilitation.
“To transform such a place from despair into one of hope and promise is the kind of vision we want to realize,” Bonta said.