California’s criminal justice system is undergoing unprecedented change. In October 2011, the state began a massive effort to reduce overcrowding in its prisons. In November 2012, voters overwhelmingly approved reform of the state’s Three Strikes Law. As a result, the potential for reform has never been higher.
Rosenberg Foundation's grant partner Californians for Safety and Justice is seizing this opportunity. The nonprofit campaign is designed to replace prison and justice system waste with common sense solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars. Through policy advocacy, public education, innovative partnerships and support for local best practices, Californians for Safety and Justice promotes effective criminal justice strategies to stop the cycle of crime and build healthy communities.
In 2013, Californians for Safety and Justice launched a new statewide network for victims and survivors of crime, Survivors for Safety and Justice, bringing them together to advocate for increased investments into prevention, trauma recovery and victim support, and reduced reliance on costly incarceration policies. The nearly 6,000 members of this statewide network give survivors of crime a voice in public policy. Californians for Safety and Justice also is conducting outreach and focus groups to hear directly from those most impacted about how best to meet victim needs and build safe communities.
Through tools, projects and partners, Californians for Safety and Justice also is working to support counties that are using innovative approaches to increase safety and reduce costs post Realignment. The campaign has produced a series of toolkits that can help counties identify areas to enhance risk management and save resources. Its Health Coverage Enrollment Toolkit explains how counties can leverage new health insurace and funding options to provide treatment to people cycling in and out of their jail systems with mental health and addiction problems. A second toolkit helps county officials collect data and assess important aspects of their jail population. Californians for Safety and Justice's analysis of justice practices in Contra Costa County found that coordination among agencies, frequent use of split sentencing and probation, and shorter probation terms have mitigated the impacts of Public Safety Realignment and resulted in lower-than-average recidivism rates in that county.
In addition, Californians for Safety and Justice is working closely with existing efforts to transform the state’s justice system. One such example is its partnership with the California Reentry Council Network (CRCN), a statewide network of local reentry councils, roundtables and task forces working together to improve the policies and programs that impact people returning to their communities from jails and prisons.
To date, the Rosenberg Foundation has awarded $550,000 to support Californians for Safety and Justice as part of the Foundation's Justice and Public Safety portfolio. The campaign also is supported by The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Fund for Nonviolence and the Women’s Foundation of California.