- Richard Garcia
(Sacramento) –Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 912, the Strategic Anti-Violence Funding Efforts (SAFE) Act. This comprehensive measure reinvests cost savings from prison closures into programs that reduce violence, provide diversion opportunities, and deliver critical community supports including mental health, education and vocational services
On December 6, 2022, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the closure and exiting of contract for two additional prison facilities. With the closure of these facilities, the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates a cost savings of $235.3 million annually.
“The reductions in the prison population are not by accident, but are instead the direct result of the work of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety which I chaired from 2013 to 2016 and the Assembly Public Safety Committee which I have chaired since 2016,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “In partnership with our Senate colleagues and the Governor, we have advanced sensible legislation and budget items to improve public safety and advance justice and equity. It is imperative that the resulting savings be reinvested into effective strategies proven to further reduce crime and violence.”
Studies have shown health-based approaches have been successful in curbing violence through applied, skill-based prevention programs. Addressing youth mental health and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is crucial in mitigating long-term effects, such as substance abuse, mental illness, chronic health problems, and criminality. Existing programs have been successful in providing crucial resources and early intervention to youth. For the week ending on 2/11/23, year-to-date statistics from the Los Angeles Police Department show a decrease in violent crime of nearly 10% and a decrease of 7.6% in property crimes, even as arrests remain relatively consistent.
“I introduced AB 912, the SAFE Act, to capture the savings from our criminal justice reform efforts and reinvest those funds in programs with proven success,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “By keeping the funding within our crime prevention budget rather than sending it back to the General Fund, we send a message that our efforts to reduce crime are continuous and we provide much needed resources for some outstanding programs.”
AB 912 calls for the reallocation of the $235 million in annual savings from the proposed closure of two prisons in the 2023-24 state budget. Those funds will go to the following programs:
- $50 million annually to relocate the Youth Reinvestment Grant Program from the Board of State and Community Corrections to the Office of Youth and Community Restoration. Grants are available for local jurisdictions and California tribes for trauma-informed diversion programs for minors.
- $35 million annually to the Department of Justice for the purpose of programs that reduce gang violence and gang involvement, modeled after successful programs like Ceasefire in Oakland that resulted in a 43% reduction in homicides and a 50% reduction in non-fatal shootings.
- $50 million annually to the State Department of Education to provide operational grants to School-based Health Centers and provide health and mental health services to children on school sites.
- $50 million annually to the California Health and Human Services Agency to support a pilot program for Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) in Alameda, Fresno, Merced, Tulane, Kern and Los Angeles. This program supports early trauma-informed interventions for school-aged children experiencing extreme traumatic events in support of their health, well-being and community stability.
- $50 million annually to the Department of Parks and Recreation in support of grants to local governments and community-based organizations to create new parks and fund recreation and health-based opportunities during peak times of violence.
The SAFE Act now awaits referral by the Assembly Rules Committee to policy committee.
Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents South Los Angeles, Exposition Park, Florence-Firestone, and a portion of Downtown Los Angeles. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, please visit https://a57.asmdc.org/.