Criminal Justice Local League Toolkit

Criminal Justice Local League Toolkit

We hope that our toolkit will assist your League in identifying high priority criminal justice projects specific to your local communities in California. It includes resources for education, advocacy and voter service. Our committee is eager to support you in this work: email us at criminaljustice (at) LWVC.org.

Start Here

We have an inclusive, open approach to organizing -- calling people into this work rather than creating barriers to participation -- so if you are new to these issues we want to be sure you begin by educating yourself. Learn from people who are most impacted by the criminal justice system. Be a good community member, by finding out who is already active in your circles and what they’re prioritizing and why. Support their work.

    Essential Connections

    Members of the League in California are strongly encouraged to join the Criminal Justice Reform GoogleGroup. This is intended to be a peer-to-peer forum for local Leagues to discuss relevant League positions, education opportunities, voter service, and concurrence or studies. In some cases, local Leagues also create their own GoogleGroup to coordinate criminal law related activities speicific for their local community, where all local members are invited to participate (and sometimes even non-members).

    California November 3, 2020 Election Advocacy

    This is important! LWV California is a member of a number of ballot measure campaigns related to criminal justice for this November 3, 2020 election. Your League should join and promote these campaigns locally.

    • YES - Schools & Communities First, Proposition 15 – Leaguers across the state stepped up to gather a record-breaking amount of signatures. We are closer than ever to restoring $12 BILLION for schools and local services.

    • YES Opportunity for All, Proposition 16 (ACA 5) – The League signed the ballot arguments to reestablish equal opportunity programs in California and help level the playing field in public higher education, employment, and contracting.

    • YES - Free the Vote Act, Proposition 17 (ACA 6) – The League co-sponsored and signed the ballot arguments to restore voting rights to more than 50,000 Californians on parole, a disproportionate number of whom are Black or Brown.

    • YES - End Money Bail, Proposition 25 – Referendum to overturn a 2018 law that replaced money bail system with a system based on public safety risk.   (aka SB 10 referendum). – Eradicates the cash bail system, which disproportionately impacts Black and Brown Californians and often causes people who have not been convicted of any crime to spend long periods in county jail and lose jobs, housing, and even their children.

    • NO - Misleading campaign title “Keep California Safe Act” or Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection, Proposition 20 – Restricts parole for non-violent offenders. Increases criminal penalties for certain theft-related crimes. Expands DNA collection.The measure aims to roll-back the reforms that not only the League supported, but reforms that have contributed to equitable public safety.

    California Legislative Action

    Based on our statewide positions, LWV California reviews bills before the State Legislature and takes action in support of or opposition to certain measures.

      1. Sign up to receive Action Alerts on the issues you care about.

      2. See current Action Alerts you can take action on.

      3. Check out our Bill Status Report.

      4. We are in the process of creating a detailed education & advocacy page for your use, too! This will prioritize timely actions, make it clear what resources are available (such as social media kits or days of action), links to coalitions, and more.

    Local Projects for Your League

    Here are our statewide top priorities for local education, advocacy and voter service on criminal justice:

    Protect & Monitor Local Implementation of AB392 Use of Force

    Protect & Monitor Local Implementation of SB1421 Officer Release of Records

    SB-1421 requires disclosure of records and information related to certain high-profile categories of officer misconduct: officer-involved shootings, certain uses of force, sustained findings of sexual assault, and sustained findings of certain types of dishonesty. How is your local community handling these requests? Is there a backlog? What do your local Public Defenders, journalists, and community members think of the local implementation?

    Protect & Monitor Local Implementation of AB 953 Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board

    This board provides recommendations that law enforcement can incorporate to enhance their policies, procedures, and trainings on topics that intersect with bias and racial and identity profiling. This report provides the Board’s recommendations for next steps for all stakeholders – advocacy groups, community members, law enforcement, and policymakers – who can collectively advance the goals of RIPA.

    Information for Voters

    Host candidate interviews and provide information about elections which impact criminal justice in your community.

    Observer Corps

    This is an excellent way to learn about criminal justice if you’re new to the issue, or to bolster your advocacy. You can sign up for an online training from LWV San Francisco. Join the national League Observer Corps Facebook Group. If you don't have any local meetings you can observe, consider observing the California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) board (meeting info in the right column, scroll down to "Upcoming Board Meetings" and "Upcoming Subcommittee Meetings").

    Issue Forums

    Consider hosting a forum, webinar, or creating a FAQ to print and share online. Write an Op Ed. Host a book club. We are sharing information here prepared and/or vetted by the LWV California for use by your local League:

    • RaceCounts.org is an education tool allowing you to see key criminal justice data organized by race. This is eye opening and may help your League prioritize which communities to partner with to address bias.
    • CA Death Penalty Coalition as presented by https://www.safecalifornia.org/
    • We also have collected content prepared by local Leagues, without state review or approval (link coming soon).

    Local Program Planning

    There are three different ways to include criminal justice in your local priorities:

    1. Make Criminal Justice Reform an Education Issue for Emphasis in your local League (you do not need to have any positions to do this). 
    2. Make Criminal Justice Reform an Advocacy Issue for Emphasis in your local League (you can use the state position but might also want local position(s) to do this). 
    3. Propose concurrence locally in order to adopt position(s) (if you want additional local positions).

    California Program Planning

    We are preparing to update LWVC’s Criminal Justice position for program planning this winter. We would appreciate feedback from you in order to identify areas to make changes and additions to the existing position. Make sure you read the existing position to understand what is already covered and how.

    Please rank these topics according to priority here.

    Position Resources

    We hope that our California Criminal Justice position, supporting materials from across the country, and our committee members will assist your League in identifying key reform areas specific to your local community. We conducted extensive research which includes state and local positions, policy best practices (policing practices, pre-trial procedures, sentencing, incarceration, re-entry, and general information), and peripheral state and national positions.

    Want Help?

    We would be happy to give your League advice! Please contact us by joining the Criminal Justice Reform GoogleGroup or emailing us at criminaljustice <at> lwvc.org.