Here is some of what your advocacy and activism achieved in 2020.
Fighting for you in the California Legislature is never easy. This year has been particularly challenging – because of the urgency of our issues, because of fierce opposition we've faced from the law enforcement lobby and other powerful interest groups, and because of the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted legislative schedules and all our lives.
We're deeply grateful for your steadfast support during these challenging times. With your help, the ACLU successfully advanced important new laws that will strengthen and protect the fundamental rights and civil liberties of all Californians. Here is some of what your advocacy and activism achieved in 2020:
* Ended "Voluntary" Youth Probation. AB 901 eliminates the practice of placing young people on criminal probation for normal youthful behavior such as getting poor grades or being late for class; and ensures youth receive the support and services they need to stay on track instead of being pulled in to the criminal prosecution system.
* Ensured Job Protection for Family Leave. SB 1383 guarantees that people who work for most employers have the right to return to their jobs if they take family or medical leave, as many more have needed to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, and expands the definition of family members to cover domestic partners, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and parents-in-law.
* Strengthened Reproductive Healthcare for People in Jails and Prisons. AB 732 ensures that pregnant people who are incarcerated receive comprehensive, unbiased information about their reproductive options, get access to timely prenatal and postnatal care, and receive reasonable accommodations and support that help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
* Improved Oversight of County Sheriffs. AB 1185 empowers counties to establish a Sheriff Oversight Board or an Office of Inspector General to review and address the actions of powerful county sheriffs, including the authority to issue subpoenas.
* Protected Families Over Fees. AB 1869 ends the harmful and costly collection of 23 administrative fees imposed against people in the criminal prosecution system. By eliminating these fees, California will dramatically reduce the suffering caused by court-ordered debt and enhance the economic security and wellness of people who come into contact with the penal system.
* Defended Transgender Agency and Dignity. SB 132 requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to search and house transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people based on each person's assessment of their own health and safety, and requires that the gender pronouns and honorifics specified by incarcerated transgender people be used in all written and verbal communications.
In addition to these victories, you helped the ACLU defeat legislation that would have spread the use of dangerous facial recognition technology; and you helped us to pass two constitutional amendments that are now on the November ballot – Proposition 16 (ensuring opportunity for all) and Proposition 17 (restoring voting rights for people on parole).
We hope you are proud of these victories. They demonstrate the power and the potential of our collective action to make California a more just and inclusive state. Even so, there is still much work to be done.
Like you, we were disappointed that the governor vetoed the CRISES Act (AB 2054), which would have created much-needed non-law enforcement alternatives to police in certain emergency situations. Also disappointing was state lawmakers' failure to enact meaningful controls on police misconduct, including refusing to bring our police decertification bill (SB 731) up for a vote in the assembly.
California must advance bold policies to reimagine policing and bring public safety under community control. We welcome your continued support and advocacy in the coming year.
Thanks for sticking with us,
Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California