CURB's New York Times Letter to the Editor

Jail Reform in California

To the Editor:

We at CURB (Californians United for a Responsible Budget) welcome your call for a sentencing commission to propose desperately needed sentencing reform here in California (“A Sentencing Commission for California,” editorial, March 10).

Our coalition works to curb prison spending using well-studied approaches and redirection of the savings to diversion and community-based alternative programs. We advocate for investment in low-income and communities of color, which are affected most by incarceration, instead of the same old approach we’ve seen here in California: building more costly prison and jail beds.

These only create incentives for more tough-on-crime policies that are preventing us from investing in real solutions to prison overcrowding.

In order for a commission to be most effective at moving California away from a punishment model, we need a commission that is similar to that of Oregon, one that is tasked with substantially reducing the number of people we lock up here in California.

We hope that the commission will help California rouse itself from the drug war stupor and the ruinous punitive bluster that has misdirected policy for decades. Surely it’s time for California to be released from those.

EMILY HARRIS
JOE MAIZLISH
Oakland, Calif., March 11, 2014

 The writers are, respectively, statewide coordinator for CURB and a member of the group’s media team.