Prison closure is on our horizon. As part of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)’s Prison Closure Workgroup, we are demanding the state start by closing 10 prisons in the next 5 years, and then continuing to close more prisons until the state divests entirely from imprisonment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom’s office pledged for the first time in California history to close two state-owned prisons in the next three years. After CA’s wave of prison construction was halted by the historic Delano II campaign, now the prisoner population has been decreasing for 15+ years, the lowest it’s been in 30 years. While the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has recommended the state close 5 prisons for logistical and financial reasons, Critical Resistance and CURB are fighting for at least ten prisons to be closed. Prisons have always been a public health crisis, and we saw this exceptionally so during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Governor Newsom’s inaction led to hundreds of deaths inside California cages. Prisons reproduce the gender, racial, and economic violence that plague our communities, and harm our most vulnerable people.
CURB has produced a Prison Closure Memo and detailed budget analysis to help guide this process and released a detailed People’s Prison Closure Plan in the spring of 2021, a roadmap for system actors providing recommendations for which facilities to close; an analysis of cost-savings to be captured and reinvested in adjacent communities; and data-driven information about the roles both racism and extreme sentencing continue to play in both prison expansion and overcrowding.
Both the Oakland and Los Angeles chapters of Critical Resistance have joined CURB’s prison closure campaign, fighting to close prisons from southern to northern CA, and supporting media, grassroots mobilization and overall strategy efforts of the campaign. As we gear up for a hearing on prison closure in early 2022 in Sacramento, we’re working to build critical relationships with local community groups and stakeholders in counties where prisons are either sited by the state for closure or recommended based on a people’s criteria for closure that CURB put together with input from people currently imprisoned.
Let’s close prisons and put our resources to what truly keeps us safe across our communities statewide: Sustainable community infrastructure, such as education, affordable housing, and environmental justice, access to stable jobs, and responses to harm that don’t involve punishment, policing, imprisonment, or surveillance. California needs care not cages! Abolition Now!
Sign up to get updates and be more involved in the campaign for prison closure across California.
Complete this form on our website, and Critical Resistance will add you to our action and events list for the campaign moving forward: criticalresistance.org/join-the-fight-close-prisons
Calling all past and present members of labor unions:
We need your help!
Are you a member of a labor union? Do you have a family member or loved one currently imprisoned in the state of California? Were you, or someone you love, previously imprisoned in California? Do you want to end the racist control of the prison industrial complex? If so, we need your help in our fight to close state prisons!
Gearing up for 2023’s next budget cycle, Critical Resistance has been strategizing around how to engage workers in unions to support the campaign to close 10 prisons by 2025. Since part of the fight will include rerouting over $1.5 billion in funds from the state budget towards other infrastructure that actually supports our communities, such as schools, healthcare, housing, and other life-affirming resources, labor unions will be critical in advocating for meaningful contracts and dignified work as these investments move forward.
You can support our outreach and organizing efforts with labor by:
- Reading & forwarding our labor cover letter reaching out to workers in CA unions
- Reading & circulating this factsheet far and wide on the role of unions in reducing imprisonment
- When signing up to join the fight, make sure to indicate you’re a union member if you are one
- Email CR Oakland directly if you’re a union member and want to work with us in getting your union on board for this campaign: email@example.com