California Prison Overhaul: Justice Best Administered Local

Our friend David Muhammad, now the Chief Probation Officer for Alameda County, shares his vision on why prison reduction is both possible, and can strengthen public safety in the following editorial written for New America Media.

OAKLAND, Calif.–California is on the brink of a massive overhaul of its criminal justice system. The changes could become a model for the United States–or could be a disaster.California is in a budget crisis, and spending on corrections not only drains billions of dollars every year from the state, but yields horrible outcomes. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the state to end the unconstitutional practice of overcrowding its prisons.

At the same time the state is facing extreme challenges, though, it is being given enormous opportunities.There are more than 140,000 inmates in a prison system designed to hold 80,000. And California has sent another 10,000 or more inmates to be held at facilities in other states.

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Mercury News: Fiscal and prison overcrowding crises could lead to Three-Strikes reform

From almost the day California’s Three Strikes sentencing law was approved by voters in 1994, opponents have tried and failed to repeal or amend the politically popular measure.

Now, huge budget deficits and overcrowded prisons have given opponents of the Three Strikes Law a more attractive argument for why it should be changed: California is broke and can’t afford such an expensive approach to criminal justice anymore.

By focusing on the costs of housing long-term prisoners and on the state’s need to reduce its inmate population, opponents said they believe a ballot measure amending the law, promised for 2012, has its best chance of success since Three Strikes was enacted. Continue Reading…

Stopping Deportations Before They Start ⎯ How Advocates Can Protect Immigrants Facing Criminal Charges

by Raj Jayadev and Angie Junck

On the heels of the one-year anniversary of a historic Supreme Court decision, attorney Angie Junck and organizer Raj Jayadev share lessons learned from a case of a San Jose man who beat a deportation order.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Padilla v. Kentucky – arguably the most important U.S. Supreme Court decision to date in terms of the nexus between local criminal courts and federal immigration laws. This is also the first week of renewed freedom for Jeysson Minota, a 28-year-old legal permanent resident from Colombia who had been in and out of federal detention centers for the past four years due to charges stemming from graffiti. His detention and his ultimate freedom tell the story of the need and possibility of the Padilla standard.

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“No One Can Do This Alone” — How a Young Immigrant Family Beat Deportation

“No One Can Do This Alone” — How a Young Family and a Supporting Community Beat Deportation from DE BUG on Vimeo.

Jeysson Minota, a permanent legal resident, faced deportation, stemming from a vandalism charge due to graffiti. After four years of being in and out of detention, he was able to beat the deportation order, and stay with his family in the US. The following mini-documentary shares the story of how Jeysson, his family, and his supporting community at Silicon Valley De-Bug were able to overcome the odds. Jeysson’s family participated in De-Bug’s Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project — an organizing model that promotes community involvement in the court systems. To read more on Jeysson’s case: ​articles/​2011/​03/​30/​ stopping-deportations-before-they-start-how-advocates-can-better-protect-immigrants-facing-criminal-charges/ ​

CBS News: Groups Tell San Jose Police Chief To Oust ICE Agents

Having worked on, and won, deportation cases, De-Bug’s ACJP members have been sending powerful public messages about the need to keep local law enforcement and federal immigration separated. As De-Bug joined several immigrant rights advocacy groups at Sacred heart Services for a press conference, ACJP organizer Stephanie Flores was quoted by CBS News.

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A coalition of San Jose community groups Friday gathered to send a loud message of disapproval to Police Chief Chris Moore on his decision to keep a pair of recently enlisted federal immigrations investigators.

“Our message is clear: we don’t want ICE here,” Stefanie Flores, a spokeswoman for Silicon Valley DeBug, said at a news conference Friday morning. “We want to work with the police to find real solutions.”

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Huffington Post: San Jose Homicide Rate: Silicon Valley City Battles Surging Murders

ACJP organizers met with ICE supervisors around the San Jose Police Department’s participation in Community Shield — which would place two ICE agents in the gang enforcement unit. In the below AP story, we, along with our friends at SIREN, comment on why ICE and local law enforcement collaborations is a public safety danger.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose has dubbed itself the “Capital of Silicon Valley” and has for years prided itself on being one of the safest big cities in America. Yet, it is on pace for more than 50 killings in 2011, a rate not seen in about 20 years.

Few in the San Francisco Bay area’s most populous city know exactly why it has had 28 murders so far this year, already surpassing 2010’s total of 20. “You can’t put your finger on one thing,” said Sgt. Jason Dwyer, a police spokesman. It could be an increase in gang crime, Dwyer said. The department is hoping that the budget-related layoffs of nearly 70 officers in June will not have a negative impact. “It’s been a trying time for us,” Dwyer said.

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