On a systemic level, we advocate for policies and practices that mitigate the effects of unconscious or explicit racial bias and discrimination covering a wide spectrum of work, including the areas of education, voting rights, economic empowerment, and reentry. On a policy level, we push for legislation at both the state and local level to eliminate barriers to full and equal participation in society. Our policy work includes shaping legislative proposals, providing technical expertise in support of legislation, testifying before legislative committees, educating legislators about the issues we are advocating for, and helping to organize among partners. The following is a sample of recent work and advocacy.
An Alameda County Superior Court Judge ruled that Secretary of State Debra Bowen illegally stripped tens of thousands of people of their voting rights two years ago, saying people on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) and mandatory supervision under California’s Criminal Justice Realignment Act are eligible to vote.
Voting Rights Barriers & Discrimination in Twenty-First Century California (Executive Summary)
In this new report we found that California voters face five categories of voting rights barriers: (1) vote dilution, (2) the de jure and de facto disenfranchisement of currently and formerly-incarcerated Californians, (3) voter suppression, (4) language access barriers and (5) disability access barriers.
The Fair Chance Act was introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim, and co-sponsored by Supervisor Malia Cohen. It will strengthen and expand the City’s current fair hiring policies, known commonly as “ban the box,” to private businesses, affordable housing, and contracting, and remove unnecessary barriers to stable housing and employment for individuals with conviction records
AB 651, the Reentry & Employment Opportunities Act introduced by Assemblyman Bradford, was signed into law in October 2013 by Governor Jerry Brown. As a result of the “Public Safety Realignment Act” of 2011, some individuals will now serve sentences in a local jail for lower-level felony convictions that used to have state prison as the only sentence available. Under AB 651, after these individuals serve their time in jail, they will have an opportunity to ask the court to set aside their convictions, subject to a waiting period and a showing of rehabilitation.
AB 651 provides a critical step forward for people who have served their sentences, helping them to avoid the stigma associated with prison time and to better access the jobs and housing they need to leave the criminal justice system permanently behind them.
In the case of Associated General Contractors, San Diego Chapter v. Caltrans (AGC v. Caltrans), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the California Department of Transportation’s outreach program to promote fairness and equity in its federal contracting.
In a lawsuit challenging the Santa Rosa School Board from illegally closing Doyle Park Elementary School, school officials settled the case by agreeing to keep the school open for one year. This suit was filed on behalf of the Doyle Park Committee for Education Equity (DPCEE), a community group comprised of concerned students, parents, teachers, and community members challenging the proposed closure in light of a clear conflict of interest by a school board member. In addition to numerous violations of California law, the lawsuit alleges that school closure will also have a negative impact on Latino students in the community and is in violation of anti-discrimination law.
In a case challenging California’s High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) to open up its closed contracting system that excluded small minority-owned businesses, we successfully petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in September 2011 to order reforms in CHSRA’s contracting practices in a manner that ensures fair and equitable contracting opportunities for all in what is the largest public works project in the nation.