Criminal Justice Reform in California

Mass incarceration has drastic impacts on our communities — and Bend the Arc: Bay Area has joined a campaign to turn the tide.

Today, close to 135,000 Californians are in state prison, costing more than $62,000 each annually. We need to end the cycle of mass incarceration and we should be spending more money on education than incarceration, especially of non-violent offenders. 

In April, the Bend the Arc Bay Area community launched our campaign for Criminal Justice Reform and we want to invite you to get involved at the very start. We are dedicated to addressing the root causes and impacts of this problem on the lives of Californians. This November we have an exciting opportunity to take the first step toward creating real sentencing reform and reducing the number of people who are incarcerated in California.

Bend the Arc’s Criminal Justice Reform campaign has joined the Yes on Prop 47 campaign to pass the Safe Neighborhoods & Schools Act. Prop 47 will change sentencing for petty crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and direct financial savings to K-12 schools, mental health treatment, and victim services. For more information on the proposition, click here.

Criminal justice reform speaks to our imperative as Jews to stand up against oppression and work to achieve a more peaceful and just society. We are confident that by leveraging partnerships with local Jewish organizations and synagogues, the Jewish community can make a difference in this campaign.

How you can get involved

Bend the Arc is reaching out to local Jewish community members, leaders and institutions to help inform and galvanize our community around Prop 47. These are possible ways we invite you to get involved, and we welcome your suggestions for engaging your organization or community in our campaign.

  • Host an informational class or forum about criminal justice and Prop 47 with one of our trained campaign spokespeople
  • Participate in a conference call or web briefing on Prop 47
  • Include criminal justice reform in the work of your Social Justice/Action committee
  • Include information about Prop 47 in emails sent to your members
  • Focus a sermon or talk in your congregation or community on Criminal Justice Reform--Check back soon for our Prop 47 Jewish Toolkit for resources and inspiration.
  • Join us to call voters and/or go door-to-door to educate and activate voters in the Bay Area

Contact Leili Davari-Bitton at for more information or to get involved today!

Southern California

Bend the Arc Southern California Campaigns Committee

Values Statement 2015

We recognize the following realities about the criminal justice system in the United States:

  • The current system of incarceration reflects the racism within our country that is deeply rooted in slavery and persists to this day.

  • People of color make up sixty percent of our prison population. This over-representation is apparent in many facets of the criminal justice system – including policing, arrests, representation in court, prosecution and conviction, sentencing, and appeals.

  • Even upon release, people who have been incarcerated are often subject to discrimination including limited access to employment, housing, public benefits, and educational opportunities.

  • Our country’s high rate of incarceration has a devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities.

As Jews, we must not only recognize this oppression, but act responsibly to rectify this deep injustice. Jews can and must make a meaningful contribution to reform in the criminal justice system, and the time is now!

  • We call on Jews to remember our communal history - our imperative to stand against persecution and work to achieve a more tolerant and just society.

  • We stand for rehabilitation and prevention over incarceration and recidivism as well as real restitution for the victims of crime - not simply punishment for punishment’s sake.

  • We stand for teshuva (repentance) and for the reintroduction of people who have been incarcerated into our society after they have served their sentence.

Recent and ongoing tragedies involving police violence have sparked public support and the political will for change. Together with our community partners, Bend the Arc Southern California will work to:

  • Ensure that Proposition 47 is implemented properly before the window closes in November of 2017, assuring that funds are being used appropriately, and providing all those who qualify with the second chance that the voters intended.

  • We will also work to "Ban the Box" by participating in efforts to remove criminal background questions from employment forms, thereby decreasing barriers to employment often experienced by those who have been incarcerated.

Please join us! For more information, email our Southern California Organizer Anjuli Kronheim Katz at

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