What is the Justice2Jobs Coalition?
Justice2Jobs Coalition (J2J) was formally founded in the summer of 2019. We engaged with community experts to guide our work to assess the systemic and lifecycle impacts of criminal legal contact (a proven systemic driver of criminalization and systemic racism). By base-building and expanding criminal legal platforms on,
lesser-known criminal legal topics
understanding the government-sanctioned, anti-Black violence ecosystem
advocating for local and state policy reform
organizing and hosting town halls and community education
centering people who are impacted by inequity
connecting impacted people to power-building conveners and restorative practices
and participating and building local movements with other accomplice organizations
the J2J Coalition fills a much-needed gap within the Sacramento criminal legal reform and economic landscape.
More importantly, J2J supports impacted persons and community members to have a platform and voice to re-define what criminal legal contact should look like--minimal physical and digital contact, generative so that the impacted person is better off than the previous contact, restorative to communities from a resource, support and policy perspective, and accountable so that criminal legal actors share this re-defined vision of public safety and public health.
Our work was inspired by the passage of Proposition 64 in late 2016, and the recreational Adult Use Act that went into effect in Sacramento, January of 2018. At the time, the San Francisco DA and other jurisdictions were talking about doing mass clean slate work while Sacramento County insisted that paper forms on a case-by-case basis was effective. Youth Forward, a youth policy and advocacy organization drafted a letter to the Sacramento DA, along with the support of 15+ organizations. This letter stated plainly the impacts that the War on Drugs had on communities of color in Sacramento, and identified the necessary steps the Sacramento District Attorney’s office must do to address justice inequities.
Over the next several months, Youth Forward and several partners worked to create a relationship, not only with the Office of the Sacramento District Attorney, but also with the Public Defender, and new organizations like Code for America out of San Francisco. By creating these successful partnerships, we strongly advocated and succeeded to re-classify or expunge around 6,000 criminal records. The Sacramento DA had only re-classified or expunged 300 records prior to this pilot. J2J transitioned to be the regional host for a Code for America pilot website for expungement eligibility.
Building off of this movement, the J2J Coalition was founded. Still, tens of thousands of criminal records remain unaddressed, other legislation and policies are deprioritized in favor of criminalizing, fines and fees go unpaid due to economic challenges, people remain locked out of achieving their fullest housing and job opportunities, translating to heightened vulnerability of poverty, re-arrest, and subsequent added trauma. As a result, we began to build a coalition centering impacted families, community members and staff from organizations that serve impacted families.
In spring 2020, the J2J Coalition was instrumental in securing a nationally-competitive grant for the City and County of Sacramento to undertake fines and fees reform, funded by PolicyLink, San Francisco Financial Justice Project, and the Fines and Fees Justice Center. J2J is now the lead community table to accelerate 3 reforms by 2021. J2J was also a key strategic partner with Decarcerate Sacramento in supporting the Public Defender in securing the COVID-19 compassionate release of over 1100 incarcerated humans at the Sacramento County Jail (April 2020). J2J is a lead strategy partner (with Breathe CA, the City of Sacramento, GreenTech, and the Black Child Legacy Campaign—Del Paso Heights site) in implementing a driver’s license/vehicle registration restoration pilot to provide economic relief, reduce another channel for disproportionate rates of stops and searches of Black people while driving, and provide “know your rights” to drivers most at-risk. Notably, we are part of a collaboration building our Participatory Defense model with Silicon Valley De-Bug. With the understanding that we center people who are impacted, we combine our Participatory Defense work with Court Watch and Pretrial Accountability. We also work to reimagine more human-centered approaches as we build bridges with state partners.
Community violence and poor neighborhoods are a function of “organized abandonment,” as articulated by Ruth Wilson Gilmore. COVID-19, the current household economics crisis, and an impending mass eviction wave are layered on top of historic structures of racism, systemic discrimination and abandonment by institutional actors, electeds and law enforcement. We seek abolition of punitive bureaucracies paired with economic justice, and genuinely want to stand with others to build government and private institutions that work for all people.