State Lawmakers Stand with 500+ Formerly Incarcerated People at State Capitol Event

By Darlin Navarrete and Jocelyn Lopez 

SACRAMENTO, CA – California State Assemblymember Lori Willson and other state lawmakers will stand alongside more than “500 formerly incarcerated individuals, family members, allies, and organizations” at the State Capitol here next Monday as part of the 11th Annual Quest for Democracy, according to Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC).

Also attending, said LSPC, will be Assemblymember Mia Bonta (AD20-Alameda), Assemblymember Liz Ortega (AD20-Alameda), and Assemblymember Bryan (AD55-Los Angeles).

LSPC said advocates will promote legislative measures aimed at restoring rights and removing obstacles for “employment, housing, and education for those impacted by the criminal justice system.”

LSPC said the event will touch on ACA 8, the End Slavery in CA Act, to remove the exception clause found in Article 1, Section 6 of the California Constitution ultimately allowing “involuntary servitude as ‘punishment for a crime’ within California’s prisons.”

The legislation supported by event sponsors include “bills such as AB 958, which supports family unification and reforms invasive strip searches for visitors; AB 2959, which addresses food vending for visiting in CDCR; and AB 1810, which provides access to menstrual and feminine hygiene products for incarcerated persons,” according to LSPC.

LSPC said those who  participate in the event will start with a morning rally “featuring speakers from partner organizations and legislators, alongside music, poetry, and dance performances.”

Support for legislative measures that seek to keep families together, wage increase for incarcerated workers, and removing obstacles to housing and employment will be advocated, stated LSPC.

Quest for Democracy is an important platform for people who have firsthand been impacted by the criminal justice system to engage with State Legislators and support for change, according to LSPC.

“At this year’s event, one of the chief priorities for advocacy is demanding the elimination of slave language, such as involuntary servitude, from California’s Constitution and gaining the right to consent to any and all labor for incarcerated people,” reported LSPC, adding, no person should be subject to forced labor and to lose the right to “autonomy and agency over their own body.”

By collaborating with criminal justice organizations and Legal Services for Prisoners With Children and All of Us or None, LSPC states the event is devoted to enhancing “civil and human rights of those impacted by incarceration.”

LSPC adds the event is “[l]ed primarily by formerly incarcerated persons and individuals directly affected by the criminal justice system,” in hopes of developing humane alternatives to incarceration and punishment.

Dorsey Nunn, executive director of LSPC, said, as taxpayers “before, during and after” through the sentencing process, those incarcerated must have, “full access to the machinery of democracy to stay connected to our communities and maintain our humanity.”

About The Author

Darlin Navarrete is a first-generation DACA student with a bachelor's in Political Science with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics from UCLA. Being an honors student, Navarrete enjoys an academic challenge and aspires to attend law school and become an immigration attorney. Her passion for minority rights and representation began at a very young age where she identified injustices her family encountered and used them as outlets to expand her knowledge on immigrant rights and educate her family. Outside of academia, Navarrete loves spending time with her family, working on cars, and doing community service.

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