On Monday, the Chamber gave an insider's look at the L.A. County's youth detention center, Central Juvenile Hall to Chamber board members, non-profit partners and funders, and business organizations working with the Chamber on smart justice efforts. Participants joined in an in-depth conversation around helping youth succeed through education and rehabilitation. Co-hosted by the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, this one-of-a-kind experience provided the business community the opportunity to explore its role in helping system-involved youth receive a second chance. (Click here to view photos)
Hollywood, CA – In 2008, concert giant Live Nation resurrected the historic venue Hollywood Palladium with an epic JAY-Z concert attended by celebrities including former Laker Derek Fisher, iHeartMedia personality Big Boy and current L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. It’s only fitting that on July 26, the venue – via a partnership with Roc Nation – was the first to host former Barack Obama advisor, CNN commentator (and recent Roc Nation signee) Van Jones’ multi-city WE RISE TOUR powered by #LoveArmy.
As a prominent figure in media who may very well be testing the waters for a future political campaign, Jones still may seem like an odd name to see on a concert venue marquee. However, the author of two books (who has become known for championing the green job movement, prison reform and generally, any and all political agenda this side of Vermont and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders), was well within his element.
Still, WE RISE clearly was not designed to focus on Jones alone. The Tennessee native effortlessly switched between host, MC, preacher, comedian and interviewer throughout the two-hour long event, which was essentially part-conference, part town hall and part concert.
With well under a thousand people in the audience at a venue that hosts sold out concerts, Chicago’s rising emcee The Boy Illinois kicked off the night with a quick and energetic set. Sitting on the stage were a dozen participants in the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, a local nonprofit that WE RISE decided to spotlight on this particular night along with the #cut50 movement. After a brief intro from the CEO of Dream Corps, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Jones, the Yale Law School alumnus strolled onto the stage to a warm round of applause.
Jones quickly won over the crowd with jokes about the event itself. “At first, I was scared that nobody was gonna come,” he said. He acknowledged that the current political climate has left many disenchanted. “I am Christian,” he said, “but even Jesus stayed in the tomb for only three days.”
Next, Jones introduced Marta Kaufmann, YoNasDa LoneWolf and Mila Kuda, all women’s rights advocates who’ve become activist rockstars in their own right after taking in part the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and other protests.
“It’s in our DNA to fight hate with love,” Kaufmann said.
Next, the audience was shown a preview of “Crown Heights,” an upcoming feature film produced by former NFL player – and Kerry Washington’s husband – Nnamdi Asomugha. He then walked out, joined by Nick Cannon and Russell Simmons. The back-and-forth banter between Cannon and Jones went from jokes to serious very quickly, as Mariah Carey’s ex-husband, a San Diego native, passionately described his childhood experience visiting relatives behind bars. He said to this day he felt it’s important to visit juvenile halls “on Saturday mornings” because as a celebrity whose every move is watched by millions, he can effect change. A short but very poignant video clip feature San Quentin prisoners bookended the panel.
To wrap up the evening, Jones and company closed out with a rousing performance from Jahi of Public Enemy, an MC who later clarified on Twitter that “Public Enemy 2.0” displayed behind him on stage is a reference to his carrying the “cultural legacy” of PE and Chuck D.
The WE RISE TOUR continues in a number of cities across the U.S. For more information and to buy tickets, visit the official #LoveArmy website.
Rapper, actor and activist Common will perform a free concert on Capitol Mall next month to raise awareness about criminal justice reform and push for the passage of three bills in the California Legislature that would give more rights to juvenile offenders and revamp the state’s bail system.
The show is scheduled for 5 p.m. Aug. 21 and up to 10,000 people are expected, said Michael Latt, who handles Common’s social impact initiatives. Billboards for the “Imagine Justice” event will go up around Sacramento on Monday.
“As an artist, I believe it is my duty to fight injustice wherever it appears and take a stand for my fellow brothers and sisters. I believe it is my responsibility to use my platform to amplify the courageous voices of the movement and support the most marginalized members of our society,” Common said in a statement to The Sacramento Bee.
The concert is the start of a three-day Sacramento campaign that includes a day of lobbying at the Capitol and a second concert for inmates inside a nearby prison, possibly Folsom State, said Latt.
Common has been involved in social justice projects including animal rights and AIDS/HIV measures in the past, but his work on criminal justice reform is new. Beginning this year, he connected with former Hollywood producer-turned-activist Scott Budnick, said Latt.
Budnick was the executive producer on “The Hangover” trilogy of movies, the top-grossing R-rated franchise in domestic box office history, raking in $643 million in U.S. ticket sales. Inspired by volunteer work teaching writing classes inside a juvenile detention facility in Los Angeles, Budnick left his Hollywood career and founded the Anti Recidivism Coalition in 2013 to help young kids in the criminal justice system.
Since then, he has become one of the most powerful voices in California’s criminal justice reform movement, and was instrumental in writing and helping to pass Proposition 57 in 2016, which curtailed prosecutor’s discretion in charging juveniles as adults, increased parole opportunities for nonviolent felons, and gave all inmates greater access to education and rehabilitation programs to earn time credits on their sentences.
Budnick also considers himself a “super fan” of Common, he said. Budnick said Common became interested in criminal justice reform after working on the 2014 film “Selma,” the story of the 1965 voting rights marches in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery. Common co-wrote the Oscar and Grammy-winning song “Glory” for the movie and played civil rights leader James Bevel.
“When (Common) was doing ‘Selma’ he kind of … dove deeply into MLK and John Lewis and those in the civil rights movement, and he saw that it was really something that they did every day,” said Budnick.
Budnick said he and Common collaborated on a series of four concerts inside California prisons earlier this year, doing full shows with the set Common used at the Coachella music festival and filming interviews with young offenders. That footage will be turned into a feature documentary produced by Blumhouse Productions, which recently produced the horror-social commentary film “Get Out.”
Common also played a Capitol Mall concert in “#Resistance Street Party” during the state Democratic convention in May.
The August concert is a continuation of Budnick’s alliance with Common and is meant to help change both public perception and policy about those in jail, said Latt.
“You are not going to get people in society to believe in better laws if you just watch the news every night and see every horror story, every crime, every gang-related crime,” said Budnick.
Collaborations like the one with Common help “show the humanity and the change and the transformation of the people inside when they have hope, when they have support, when they have opportunity.”
RELATED STORIES FROM THE SACRAMENTO BEE
Common and Budnick will meet with legislators the day after the concert to talk about two bills meant to give juvenile offenders more of those chances.
The first, Senate Bill 395, would require that minors have legal counsel before waiving their Miranda rights when in police custody. Budnick used the example of a formerly incarcerated member of his staff, Jerome Dixon, who was arrested as a 17-year-old and interrogated for 25 hours straight before confessing to a crime he maintains he did not commit. Dixon served 21 years in prison.
“It wasn’t him but after 25 hours in an interrogation room as a minor, he said whatever they wanted to so he could go to bed,” said Budnick. “All this bill says is before the police interrogate a young person, they get to have one conversation with an attorney, with an adult.”
The second measure, Senate Bill 394, would give minors sentenced to life without parole a chance to be released after serving 25 years. There are currently about 300 inmates in California who were convicted as minors without the chance for release, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.
“We are the only country in the world that would sentence a juvenile to life without parole,” said Budnick. “That basically says young people can’t change and who you were at 15 and what you did at 15 years old is who you are forever.”
Common is also supporting Senate Bill 10, a controversial measure that would reform California’s bail system and allow more people to be released without the requirement of a money-backed bond.
Opponents argue ending money-based bail would be costly and potentially put more dangerous people on the street.
Budnick and other advocates argue the money bail system keeps low-income people in jail for financial reasons while they await their day in court and often causes them to lose jobs, fail out of school and lose housing regardless of whether they are eventually convicted or not.
“It’s just unjust and attacks poor people,” said Budnick of the current system. “If I committed an identical crime to someone who is poor, often a poor person of color, I would be out of jail in a couple hours and they would be in there months or even years, and both of us are innocent until proven guilty.”
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article161693778.html#storylink=cpy
Board of State and Community Corrections Announces $103 Million Dollars for Community Diversion and Treatment Programs
June 9, 2017
SACRAMENTO, CA – Yesterday, the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) announced $103 million dollars in grant awards for community diversion and treatment programs across California. Demonstrating the largest reallocation of prison budget funds to community-based programs, this is a historic opportunity for California to lead the way in ensuring effective treatment, diversion and reentry services for individuals most impacted by our criminal justice system.
ARC Founder Scott Budnick served as a Co-Chair of the BSCC’s Proposition 47 Executive Steering Committee, alongside Leticia Perez, a Kern County Supervisor. “I am very pleased that we put together a committee rooted in community, and over 75 million of this much needed funding is going directly to community based organizations, who are doing incredible and difficult work on the ground.”, Mr. Budnick reflected on the outcome.
ARC Board Members Charity Chandler and Javier Stauring also served on the Committee, providing the critical perspectives of individuals with direct experience in the justice system, and service providers supporting the population.
Some key provisions of the funding include:
• Funding strategically dispersed throughout the state to maximize effectiveness and reach. Grants averaging between $1 million to $6 million dollars, for local efforts addressing needs such as chronic offenders with acute drug addiction, mental health issues and homelessness.
• The largest grant allocation will be $32 million dollars going to Los Angeles County for the supportive services provided by remarkable community-based organizations throughout the County. This funding will make an enormous impact on the strong collaborations already building across the County in the areas of treatment, diversion and reentry.
ARC applauds the efforts of Californians for Safety and Justice, advocates and community members for fighting for a new vision for criminal justice which facilitated the successful passage of Proposition 47. This has led to increased focus on decarceration, treatment and investment in community-based solutions to trauma and crime. Along with tens of thousands of community members, this collaborative has raised the volume on the issues of mass incarceration and fought for decades to pave the way for the magnitude of commitment this announcement ensures.
For more information, please contact Communications Director Cheryl Bonacci at email@example.com or (213) 955-5885.
Founded in 2013, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition provides a supportive network and reentry services to formerly incarcerated individuals, and advocates for fair and just policies in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Together, we serve as a bridge to transformation, purpose, and redemption.
Providing Public Comment on the Proposition 57 Emergency Regulations – The Proposition 57 Emergency Regulations have been released, and you can let CDCR know what you think! While there is much to be happy about, there are also areas of concern, such as the fact that many of the new credits are NOT retroactive. You may also have serious concerns about insufficient programming throughout California's prisons.
During this public comment period, you have a chance to voice your thoughts and concerns, and help others voice their thoughts and concerns in letters to CDCR.
PLEASE follow the steps below to learn how to write and submit these letters.
Step 1: Go to: http://fairsentencingforyouth.org/take-action/
Step 2: Select option number 2 where it says: Prop 57 Regulations Sample Letter with Instructions.
Step 3: Read through the presentation that says: Getting Our Voices Heard! Prop 57 Rulemaking,
Step 4: Click on the link that says: Prop 57 Regulations Sample Letter with Instructions.
These are PDF’s that will download to their computers. Very carefully follow these instructions!
Children's Defense Fund-California, Youth Justice Coalition, Urban Peace Institute and Anti-Recidivism Coalition have joined together to voice concern about "voluntary supervision" by the Los Angeles Probation Department over youth who have no prior court or probation involvement.
Scott Budnick, a key player on the Hangover movies, sidelined his film career to go behind bars and help troubled young men turn their lives around.
America is known as the land of opportunity. But opportunity is not created equal. For some, theirs is the opportunity of inferior schools, violent neighborhoods, crime and unforgiving cycles of prison and recidivism.
When Thomas Reese III was 15 years old, he made a poor decision that led to an 18 years to life sentence. After 17-1/2 years, he was released and needed to get his life on track. He found construction work, which kept him and his family afloat, but didn’t provide benefits or job security.
Last night, Californians took a huge step in the direction of a fairer justice system, and safer and healthier communities by voting in favor of Prop. 57!