San Francisco Families Protest S-Comm Deportations

On the frontlines protesting ICE’s arbitrary rules under S-COMM are immigrant families pushing against the program’s implementation of nationwide deportations.  Documentary photographer, journalist, and organizer David Bacon captures these images at a recent protest against ICE.

Photos by David Bacon (
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 12AUGUST11 – Immigrants, unions, churches and social service organizations march through downtown San Francisco to the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security.  They protested an ICE decision  to implement the Secure Communities enforcement program, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deportations, even though some states have tried to withdraw from their implementation agreements with ICE. California legislators are poised to pass a bill calling on the state to do so also.  Many immigrants brought their children to show that the impact of increased enforcement is the separation of families when some members are deported.

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The Stanford Daily: Three Strikes Project fights life sentences for nonviolent recidivists

At ACJP, we often see families coming in who have loved ones doing life sentences for non-serious offenses due to the Three Strikes law. Until the law is changed, there are few legal advocates who are taking on these cases. But the Three Strikes Project, run by students at Stanford Law School, was founded in 2006 and has since reduced 15 sentences for prisoners who have committed a nonviolent crime as their third offense. The Stanford Daily’s Marwa Farag wrote the following article delving into the work of this student-run group. – Post submission by Betsy Wolf-Graves

Susannah Karlsson and Mike Romano of Stanford's Three Strikes Project.

Students at Stanford Law School are fighting to change what is known as the Three Strikes Law in the California criminal justice system.

The Stanford Three Strikes Project, founded in 2006, takes on clients who are facing life sentences under the Three Strikes Law, which mandates a 25-year to life sentence for third-time offenders. The third offense need not be “serious” or “violent” for the law to be applied. Continue reading

California Lawyer: Mr. Public Defender — Profile of Jeff Adachi

Head of SF Public Defender's office has entered the city's mayoral race.

Given this weekend’s news that San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has officially entered the San Francisco’s Mayor’s race, we thought we would run a profile of his work as California’s only elected Public Defender. In describing the role of the public defender’s office, Adachi says,” We are defending a principle that you can’t taste or see or even experience, but something that you notice when it’s taken away.”


CBS News: Feds crack down on police brutality nationwide

In what appears to be an exception to the rule for this administration, Obama’s Department of Justice is apparently aggressively pursuing what by any reasonable standards appears to be an almost unchecked explosion of police brutality in this country.

Apparently sensing the American public’s growing anger and impatience with repeated and well documented cases of police murder and brutality going unprosecuted by local officials, Obama’s Justice Department has been instructed to intervene. The following video and article from CBS News, focuses on the case of James Chasse, who was killed by Portland Police in 2006, as a way to highlight the administration’s new effort.

Now we can only hope that local and state District Attorneys/Attorney Generals– with continued public pressure– will follow the DOJ’s lead and begin to rebuild the public trust by aggressively prosecuting law violating police officers on the local level. — post submission by Aram James. Continue reading

Mercury News: Homeland Security toughens stance on Draconian ‘Secure Communities’

A Washington Post Columnist opines on Homeland Security’s recent announcement that they are rescinding the MOU’s with jurisdictions — essentially saying they never needed them, and that they can force the controversial program on states and counties despite local jurisdictions saying they want to opt out. While the move impacts some immigrants advocates’ strategies, better believe civil rights groups are not giving up on ending the program.

By Esther J. Cepeda
CHICAGO — Draconian. Rogue. Dangerous. Flawed.

These are just some of the words used to describe the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities program, which, if it hasn’t already, will soon be coming to a community near you.

In a stunning defeat for immigration rights advocates who were celebrating in June after several states, including Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois, declared they’d no longer be participating, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced last week that it was terminating all existing memorandums of agreement with individual jurisdictions — to send the clear message that the program is not voluntary and cannot be declined. Continue reading

New America Media: San Francisco District Attorney Debate

Last week, a debate was held between the four candidates vying for the recently vacated position of San Francisco District Attorney. George Gason, David Onek, Vu Trinh and Sharmin Bock spoke on a number of issues including: the war on drugs, conviction rates, and the three strikes law. Here are a couple clip, produced by Ann Bassette, a video producer for New America Media.

David Onek discusses how race-neutral decisions affect communities of color.

George Gason speaks on the war on drugs in San Francisco.

To see more clips, go to New America Media’s coverage of the debate sponsored by: Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, ACLU-Northern Calif, African American Art and Culture Complex, Asian Law Caucus, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Equal Justice Society.

LA Times: Californians would rather ease penalties than pay more for prisons

LA Times poll showing Californians in favor of reforming 3 Strikes Law

According to a LA Times poll, Californians are calling for the reduction of prison inmates and also reduced sentences for three-strikers. The article points to two reasons for this: (1) The large hole left in the wallets of hard-working Californians, whose tax dollars have been spent in giant sums ($38,000 per inmate per year) to support the prison system…  And to make matters worse, the global stock market just had its worst plunge since 2008, this week. This means the economy is only getting worse. (2) The June 2011 Supreme Court ruling (Brown v. Plata) which declared that California’s prison are overcrowded. The Supreme Court has ordered the State of California to begin releasing 31,000 inmates.

Preparations for the release of prisoners is already underway. Reducing the population of the prisons will help California save a lot of money. However, there is a responsibility that falls upon all members of the public. This responsibility is to make sure that the inmates who are being released have received the rehabilitation and reentry support they need to reenter society. A lot of prisoners experience a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since they are being released back into our communities, we need to make sure we give them the support they need. This means that all Californians, regardless of political party, need to hold our county and public officials accountable in helping to make sure that these inmates are made ready to reenter our communities.  Also read: California’s Goal to Reduce Prison Populations Hinges on County Plans.  — post submission by Ernest Chavez Continue reading

California’s Goal to Reduce Prison Populations Hinges on Counties’ Plans

By Raj Jayadev

Santa Clara County Main Jail

Through a recent piece of legislation called AB109 that mandates a reduction in the prison inmate population, California counties are being given a rare, historic opportunity to re-imagine its public safety framework in a way that can dramatically strengthen our communities, unite our families, and rebuild the economy of our resource depleted state.

Or, we can just fill up our local jails with people who would have filled up our state prisons.

What path we take in the state’s fork in the road moment will be based on how counties envision, strategize, and act over the next two months, as counties need to submit their plan for what is being called “realignment” on October 1st, 2011. And as much as I hate to use a Silicon Valley catch phrase – Santa Clara County, as well as every California county, can shift the paradigm of our criminal justice system if we allow our more rationale thinking to prevail over the impulse to do more of the same in terms of incarceration. Continue reading

Mercury News: Sentencing reform should be a conservative priority

In an editorial written for the Mercury News, Pat Nolan, a former Republican Leader of the California Assembly member, makes the case for why prison reduction makes sense across the political spectrum….

Prison in Tracy, California

At long last, California will have to deal with our bulging prisons, where 140,000 inmates are crammed into facilities designed to hold 80,000. The Supreme Court found conditions that are profoundly troubling, and these prison conditions could turn a short sentence for a nonviolent offense into a death sentence because of inadequate medical care.

Certainly our prisons hold many folks who are very dangerous and need to be locked away from society, even for the rest of their lives. However, we also send many low-risk offenders to prison. As a conservative Republican, that makes no sense to me, as it is very costly and can sometimes turn low-level offenders into hardened criminals. Continue reading

ACLU Press Release: DHS Ends Three-Year Charade on S-Comm

Three years after Department of Homeland Security first rolled out the “Secure Communities Program” which sent fingerprints of those accused of a crime at the moment of arrest from the jails to ICE, DHS reveals they never needed state consent to participate in the program anyway.  Immigrant rights organizations are angry, yet are not surprised by DHS’s latest move which many feel is just part of their business-as-usual tactic to skirt transparency and ultimately deport undocumented immigrants at all costs.

August 5, 2011
CONTACT: Cynthia Bell, (202) 675-2312;

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been able to cite only one statutory provision to support its position: 8 U.S.C. § 1722, part of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act (EBSA).  But EBSA does not authorize the federal government to commandeer states’ resources to screen individuals in state and local custody.

“Three years after introducing Secure Communities, DHS changed the rules of the game by setting aside all the agreements that states negotiated in good faith. Today’s announcement is the latest in a long line of deceptive DHS theatrics and is an insult to governors and state leaders who signed these agreements, which now amount to nothing more than the paper they’re printed on. DHS has recklessly inflicted S-Comm on states and localities across the country without any legal justification for the program,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.