We hope that our toolkit will assist your League in identifying high priority criminal justice projects specific to your local communities in California. It includes resources for education, advocacy and voter service. Our committee is eager to support you in this work. We want to hear what you're up to, so please communicate with us.
We have an inclusive, open approach to organizing -- calling people into this work rather than creating barriers to participation -- so if you are new to these issues we want to be sure you begin by educating yourself. Learn from people who are most impacted by the criminal justice system. Be a good community member, by finding out who is already active in your circles and what they’re prioritizing and why. Support their work.
Members of the League in California are strongly encouraged to join the Criminal Justice Reform GoogleGroup. This is intended to be a peer-to-peer forum for local Leagues to discuss relevant League positions, education opportunities, voter service, and concurrence or studies. In some cases, local Leagues also create their own GoogleGroup to coordinate criminal law related activities speicific for their local community, where all local members are invited to participate (and sometimes even non-members).
We have a monthly Criminal Justice call for any interested League member (join the GoogleGroup above for more information).
California November 3, 2020 Election Advocacy
This is important! LWV California is a member of a number of ballot measure campaigns related to criminal justice for this November 3, 2020 election. Your League should join and promote these campaigns locally and all the Vote With the League recommendations.
YES - Schools & Communities First, Proposition 15 – Leaguers across the state stepped up to gather a record-breaking amount of signatures. We are closer than ever to restoring $12 BILLION for schools and local services.
YES Opportunity for All, Proposition 16 (ACA 5) – The League signed the ballot arguments to reestablish equal opportunity programs in California and help level the playing field in public higher education, employment, and contracting.
YES - Free the Vote Act, Proposition 17 (ACA 6) – The League co-sponsored and signed the ballot arguments to restore voting rights to more than 50,000 Californians on parole, a disproportionate number of whom are Black or Brown.
YES - End Money Bail, Proposition 25 – Referendum to overturn a 2018 law that replaced money bail system with a system based on public safety risk. (aka SB 10 referendum). – Eradicates the cash bail system, which disproportionately impacts Black and Brown Californians and often causes people who have not been convicted of any crime to spend long periods in county jail and lose jobs, housing, and even their children.
NO - Rollback on Criminal Justice Reforms, Proposition 20 – Restricts parole for non-violent offenders. Increases criminal penalties for certain theft-related crimes. Expands DNA collection. The measure aims to roll-back the reforms that have contributed to equitable public safety.
California Legislative Action
The Legislature is not currently in session. There are bills waiting for the Governor's signature so please sign up for action alerts below in case your support is needed for this. Once the State Legislature resumes, based on our positions (particularly the Criminal Justice Position), we will review bills before the State Legislature and take action in support of or opposition.
Sign up to receive Action Alerts on the issues you care about.
See current Action Alerts you can take action on.
Check out our Bill Status Report.
We are in the process of creating a detailed education & advocacy page for your use, too! This will prioritize timely actions, make it clear what resources are available (such as social media kits or days of action), links to coalitions, and more.
Local Projects for Your League
Here are our top recommendations of projects your local League can undertake in for education, advocacy and voter service for criminal justice:
Protect & Monitor Local Implementation of AB392 Use of Force
Protect & Monitor Local Implementation of Assemby Bill 748 and SB1421 Officer Release of Records
SB-1421 requires disclosure of records and information related to certain high-profile categories of officer misconduct: officer-involved shootings, certain uses of force, sustained findings of sexual assault, and sustained findings of certain types of dishonesty. AB-748 requires release of video and audio recordings of critical incidents. How is your local community handling these requests? Is there a backlog? What do your local Public Defenders, journalists, and community members think of the local implementation?
- First Amendment Coalition Police Transparency Guide includes a legal compendium, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), and sample letters.
- ACLU information
Protect & Monitor Local Implementation of AB 953 Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board
This board provides recommendations that law enforcement can incorporate to enhance their policies, procedures, and trainings on topics that intersect with bias and racial and identity profiling. This report provides the Board’s recommendations for next steps for all stakeholders – advocacy groups, community members, law enforcement, and policymakers – who can collectively advance the goals of RIPA. Is your community aware of these recommendations? Are they being implemented well?
- Third Annual RIPA Report (2020) with fact sheets, best practices, etc
- Short ~11 minute introductory CA DOJ video you can share with members and the public or a ~4 minute introductory KPBS video
- We recommend having your Observer Corps watch the board (and subcommittee) meetings. There are 36 recordings or you can watch upcoming meetings live (see right hand side of page).
Congressional Action on Police Violence
Based on the LWVUS call for congressional action on police violence, we are developing resources for local action. Of course, we strongly encourage you to sign up for LWVUS action alerts for national action.
Information for Voters
1) Voting in California Jails, A Community Toolkit. Your League can use this and you can share it with other organizations, county elections officials, and your sheriff to break down barriers to democracy for people in county jails. This project is a collaboration between the League of Women Voters of California, the ACLU of Northern California, and the ACLU of Southern California, as well as our partners at the Alameda Public Defender’s Office, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Pillars of the Community, and the Santa Cruz County Elections Office.
2) The California Easy Voter Guide has a special emphasis on criminal justice for the November election. Use these materials in your community!
3) Host candidate interviews and ballot measure discussions, produce pros and cons, and other voter information resources which highlighting how these impact criminal justice in your community. What is on your ballot related to criminal justice?
- The ACLU has an excellent "Meet Your District Attorney" campaign in California your League can use. For inspiration, take a look at LWV Los Angeles district attorney candidate forum (90-minute FB livestream) and their public forum, “Power of Prosecutors” (5-minute highlight video).
This is an excellent way to learn about criminal justice if you’re new to the issue, or to bolster your advocacy. You can sign up for an online training from LWV San Francisco. Join the national League Observer Corps Facebook Group. If you don't have any local meetings you can observe, consider observing the California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) board (meeting info in the right column, scroll down to "Upcoming Board Meetings" and "Upcoming Subcommittee Meetings").
Consider hosting a forum, webinar, or creating a FAQ to print and share online. Write an Op Ed. Host a book club. We are sharing information here prepared and/or vetted by the LWV California for use by your local League:
- RaceCounts.org is an education tool allowing you to see key criminal justice data organized by race. This is eye opening and may help your League prioritize which communities to partner with to address bias.
- CA Death Penalty Coalition as presented by https://www.safecalifornia.org/
- Interview government officials or bodies about their role in criminal justice. For inspiration, take a look at the LWV San Francisco Department of Police Accountability interview.
Local Program Planning
There are three different ways to include criminal justice in your local priorities:
- Make Criminal Justice Reform an Education Issue for Emphasis in your local League (you do not need to have any positions to do this).
- Make Criminal Justice Reform an Advocacy Issue for Emphasis in your local League (you can use the state position but might also want local position(s) to do this).
- Propose concurrence locally in order to adopt position(s) (if you want additional local positions).
California Program Planning
We are preparing to update LWVC’s Criminal Justice position for program planning this winter. We would appreciate feedback from you in order to identify areas to make changes and additions to the existing position. Make sure you read the existing position to understand what is already covered and how.
- Please rank these topics according to priority here.
We hope that our California Criminal Justice position, supporting materials from across the country, and our committee members will assist your League in identifying key reform areas specific to your local community. We conducted extensive research which includes state and local positions, policy best practices (policing practices, pre-trial procedures, sentencing, incarceration, re-entry, and general information), and peripheral state and national positions.
- Background Information
- LWV-US Clearinghouse of studies and research -- Index of state and local Criminal Justice positions (Only shows submitted positions, if your Criminal Justice position/study is missing, please get your League to submit it following instructions here: How to Submit a Study or Position - Clearinghouse)
- State Leagues with positions on Juvenile Justice
- State Leagues with positions on Criminal Justice
- LWV California Criminal Justice Position. LWV California used called “concurrence” to establish their Criminal Justice position, but it may be more flexible than the policy your League uses (we highly recommend adopting California's).
- LWV California Criminal Justice Action Policy - coming soon! An action policy brings together existing League positions that apply to criminal justice. The policy makes it easy to see all the State and National positions needed to help analyze proposed legislation or ordinances and use them for advocacy.
Stay in Touch, Get Help
Please contact us by joining the Criminal Justice Reform GoogleGroup or emailing us at criminaljustice <at> lwvc.org.
We have a monthly Zoom during which all members from across the state are welcome. Join the GoogleGroup or email us for more information.