Community Members Call for Restored Rights to People with Felony Convictions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—March 20th, 2012

Organizations Speak at Oakland City Council in Support of Resolutions to Support Prisoner Reentry

Press Contact:  Isaac Ontiveros, Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Ph. 510 444 0484

What: Oakland City Council Meeting

When: Tuesday, March 20 2012, 6:30pm

Where: Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza

Oakland—The Oakland City Council will hear three timely resolutions to support state legislation that would remove barriers to reentry for people with felony convictions. The measures, which would end the lifetime ban on public benefits for people with prior drug-related felony convictions and expand “ban the box” policies to city and county employment across California, come as more focus is put in local community responses to Governor Brown’s prison realignment plan.

“Preventing parents from receiving basic needs puts our state’s poorest children in harm’s way and burdens local communities that are challenged to find strategies to support successful reentry for an increasing number of low-income parents,” said Jessica Bartholow with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, a leading anti-poverty organization working to pass this legislation. Currently, any Californian who has a prior drug related felony conviction is denied from accessing CalWORKs and CalFresh, public programs that grant access to affordable food, education, and child-care.

“It is crucial that people most vulnerable in our communities, especially people with felony convictions, have access to food, jobs, education and other important services when coming home from prison or jail,” notes Manuel La Fontaine, organizer for All of Us or None’s Oakland Chapter. La Fontaine continues, “If I didn’t have a support system when coming home from prison, I would have fallen through the cracks. I hope the City of Oakland supports these important resolutions.” Oakland has already adopted a city-level “ban the box”, a fair hiring policy that removes discriminatory questions about conviction history from an initial job application. This legislation would extend “ban the box” measures to all California cities and counties.

Alameda County is one of four counties to receive a passing grade on a recently updated Realignment Report Card issued by Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), a statewide coalition of over 40 member organizations. “We hope that Alameda County and the City of Oakland will continue to step out as a model county in response to realignment. We need them to show more counties how to support and develop policies that support people with felony convictions instead of locking them up and denying them access to jobs and basic programs and services,” said Emily Harris, Statewide Coordinator for CURB.

Representatives from Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Critical Resistance, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, All of Us None, California Partnership, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Berkeley Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution, and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners will be speaking during the public comment section of Tuesday’s meeting.

CURB’s Report Card is available at: http://curbprisonspending.org/?p=1391

Tonight’s City Council will include:

Item #13 AB 828: CalFRESH (Swanson): http://oakland.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1080717&GUID=90B74D29-6EF5-47AD-AB8A-40DEEA6C9CF4

Item #14 SB 1060: CalWORKS (Hancock): http://oakland.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1080718&GUID=B7F42BD5-99D3-434F-BB8E-F19B96258702

Item #16 AB 1831: Hiring Practices (Dickenson/Swanson): http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_1801-1850/ab_1831_bill_20120222_introduced.pdf

 

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