Reply To: Session #2 The Criminal Justice Landscape

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Reentry Overview Memo from Open Philanthropy
This reading reminded me of the crucial reentry work the TransLatin@ Coalition (not mentioned in this memorandum) is doing for the TGI community in Los Angeles. When incarcerated TGI people prepare for reentry from carceral facilities, they are met with
obstacles, including a lack of gender-affirming resources and services. This makes reintegration into society challenging, and often re-traumatizing. Even while attempting to begin a new life outside of prison or jail, TGI people are frequently targeted by law enforcement for harassment, just as they are inside of carceral facilities.

As we create new policy and celebrate reform wins, we must continually ask ourselves: whose needs are still not being met by those reforms? Who is still being left out? Let us not forget that even the most well-intentioned reforms have the potential to cause harm.

Criminal Justice Reform Strategy
Lots of takeaways from this reading, but a big one for me is budget budget budget!
Right now California is actually experiencing a decarceration trend. Despite a decrease in the prison population in California, corrections spending keeps going up. So if California is truly decreasing its reliance on punitive answers to public safety, then why has our corrections budget increased $200 million over last year to top out at a whopping ~$17 billion for 2021-22? The answer is that California has a statewide prison spending addiction. If we want to stay the course of our decarceration trend, we urgently need to stop spending so much of our taxpayer dollars on carceral systems.

I also appreciate the way in which this reading supports key principles of Restorative Justice, such as that we cannot simply rely on the state to bring us healing and freedom from incarceration.

The Art of Legislative Lawyering and the Six Circles Theory of Advocacy
It is heartening to see that the advocacy structure implemented to enact the ADA is one I commonly see used in grassroots local organizing. I definitely vibe with the communications and outreach arms of this model. Also, this reading reminded me that power is not monolithic. People power/community is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. I love the concept that in order to shift dominant institutions, we must change hearts and minds one person at a time!