#12DaystoShowUp Day 10: The Prison Industrial Complex Part 1

As a part of SURJ Bay Area’s #12DaysToShowUp Fundraising Campaign — and our ongoing commitment to racial justice and reparations — 50% of all donations raised for SURJ are passed on to local POC-led organizations. The other 50% will be used to fund under-resourced rural SURJ chapters and to support our own work mobilizing white people in the Bay Area.

Donate to SURJ Bay Area before December 31 to help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $20,000.

In addition to your donation to SURJ, we encourage you to match donations directly to POC-led organizations like those we’ve featured each of the 12 Days of this campaign.

20170508_-_974C7321_-SURJBayArea_at_Quest_for_Democracy_Day_in_Sacramento_-_photographed_by_Sam_Breach_2017_-_1080_short_edge.jpg

Angela Davis once said, “There is an unbroken line of police violence in the US that takes us all the way back to the days of slavery.”

We’ve seen this illustrated vividly in documentaries like The 13th and books like Michele Alexander's "The New Jim Crow." These works document how prisons emerged after slavery, and mushroomed in the past several decades, recapturing Black people as a source of exploited labor, while painting them as inherently criminal. As a light is shining on the lives impacted by the racist prison system, a wave of transformational changes for incarcerated people are being led and enacted by the people most impacted by the prison industrial complex: incarcerated people and their loved ones.

In May, dozens of SURJ Bay Area activists went to Sacramento and joined with members of All of Us or None, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), and many other groups to lobby for a half dozen proposed bills that would help enfranchise incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. It was an eye-opening experience for many, demonstrating strong organizing by families and activists to improve the health and autonomy of communities of color and reduce the detrimental influence of prisons. At the request of POC-led organizations organizing this push, SURJ Bay Area provided transportation, lunches, and elbow grease to help make the lobbying day an enormous success.

Several of the measures have progressed through the legislature and have been enacted into law thanks to the hard work of these organizations. Some key examples:

  • The Fair Chance Act (AB 1008), which expands 'Ban the Box' to private employers, pushing back the time to ask about a prior conviction during job applications.
  • The RISE Act (SB 180) repeals the section of code that adds additional years of punishment for prior nonviolent drug offenses, a section that has failed to protect communities or reduce the availability of drugs, but that has resulted in overcrowded jails and prisons, unjustly harsh sentences for nonviolent crimes, and crippled state and local budgets.

But there’s more to be done in 2018 to support the following legislation:

  • The California Bail Reform Act (SB 10) would ensure that people are not held in dangerous, overcrowded jails after arrest simply based on income level. SB 10 is co-sponsored by the Ella Baker Center and Essie Justice Group.
  • AB 535 ends the prohibition against serving on a jury for people with felony convictions.

Throughout the legislative cycle, SURJ works with its partner organizations to build base and mobilize around these legislative processes. To continue doing so, SURJ needs the financial commitment of concerned citizens like you to continue supporting these efforts and bringing our power to bear on behalf of incarcerated individuals. We pass more than 50% of our fundraising directly to POC-led organizations that SURJ has partnerships with like All of Us or None, Initiate Justice, Essie Justice, and TGIJP. Please make a gift by December 31 to help keep up the momentum on the fight against mass incarceration in the new year.

Donate to SURJ Bay Area before December 31 to help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $20,000.