#cut50 is a national bipartisan effort to safely and smartly cut the number of people behind bars and give people coming home chances to rebuild their lives and contribute to their communities. We build unlikely alliances that bridge the political divide and bring people together to advance solutions that redefine justice and equity.
Our success is built on humanization with legislation and empowering people who have been harmed by the system to play an active role in reforming it, through our Empathy Network. We work with directly impacted leaders to uplift their expertise and experiences in order to advance sensible and necessary reforms.
Our 2020 Priorities:
First Step Act Implementation and Funding
- Goal 1: Leverage the power of directly impacted leadership and our bipartisan coalition to push the Administration and Congress to fully fund and properly implement all provisions of the legislation. This includes working with members of the Appropriations committee to fund $75 million annually for the First Step Act prison reforms and $100 million annually for the Second Chance Act grant programs reauthorized by the First Step Act. We will also play an active role in Congressional oversight and work closely with federal agencies and the Administration.
- Goal 2: Ensure that opportunities for funding and impact expanded by the First Step Act and Second Chance Act grant programs are accessible to community-based organizations, especially those led by impacted individuals. This involves launching an educational campaign to help partners understand how to apply for existing funds allocated for reentry efforts as well as working to expand access to those funds within the federal bureaucracy.
- Goal 3: Leverage national momentum and strategic relationships to build private and social sector support and partnerships for people coming home from state and federal prison. Expanding on our success with partners like Lyft and Verizon, we will continue to offer resources to returning community members through our Empathy Network, support national fair chance hiring efforts, and build new public-private partnerships.
Next Steps on Federal Legislation
- Accelerate bipartisan momentum on Capitol Hill by continuing to move new legislation. We see areas of opportunity to restore fairness to our courts with prosecutorial accountability legislation and sentencing reforms, supporting the transformation of the prison system by increasing education and rehabilitation and advancing successful reentry by reducing barriers to employment, housing, and critical services.
Urging Executive Actions
- Work with the Administration, the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, and executive brand agencies to recommend and push for positive executive actions, especially in the areas of housing and education.
Revamping the Clemency Process
- Urge the administration to expedite clemency for deserving individuals while also pushing for structural reforms to the White House clemency such as the formation of an independent clemency committee, transferring the Office of the Pardon Attorney out of the DOJ, exploring categorical clemency, and other levers to reduce bureaucracy while increasing fairness and the granting of clemency at a faster pace.
Primary Caregiver Pretrial Diversion Act Implementation and Data Collection
On January 1st, 2020, the Primary Caregiver Pretrial Diversion Act will go into effect in California. The act sets up the first-ever statewide pre-plea diversion court for parents and caregivers. #cut50 is uniquely positioned to ensure proper implementation and disseminate lessons learned to partners across our national Empathy Network.
- Goal 1: Partner with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and “court watch” eligible cases under SB 394 in selected counties and communities to evaluate implementation and document the human impact of the legislation.
- Goal 2: We will use these case studies, along with state-collected data, to evaluate which counties have successfully utilized the diversion courts, which programs people have been referred to, and what the success rates have been. We will also look for patterns in cases where the legislation failed to work as intended.
- Goal 3: With our findings, we will create an evidence-based “bench guide” for other jurisdictions to refer to providing information for how to best apply the bill to populations that need mental health treatment or programs that promote full potential and the ability to adapt to change.
Still Not Free (Parole and Probation)
In 2020, the Community Reintegration Credits will aim to impact over 50,000 people in California on parole.
- Goal 1: Introduce and pass a parole supervision reform bill in California and other states needing such reform. Prosocial behavior will be encouraged by shifting parole supervision incentives away from a punitive approach to a supportive one by implementing a credit system that allows for conditional early release. Our legislation would mean 99% of people on parole could earn up to a year off their terms of supervision, potentially saving nearly $650 million per year. California’s legislation will serve as a model and will help us determine which states would benefit the most from a credit earning system.
- Goal 2: Leverage national attention to build private and social sector partnerships for those on parole.
Dignity for Incarcerated Women
This campaign seeks to restore dignity to women in prison through various reforms, including abolishing the shackling of pregnant women and providing incarcerated women with the hygiene products they need.
- Goal 1: Strengthen #cut50’s Dignity Advisory Board set to advise on campaigns impacting women and girls.
- Goal 1: Achieve our goal of passing 20 pieces of legislation in 20 states by fighting for policy change in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
- Goal 2: Continue to support our network of Dignity Ambassadors across the country by drafting legislation, leveraging our media connections, and hosting policy advocacy trainings.
- Goal 3: Highlight impact in the states we have passed bills through continued partnerships and membership in new coalitions, ensuring proper implementation, and fighting for full funding for related programs.
Dignity for Incarcerated Workers
The average wage in state prisons is 20 cents per hour and half of all imprisoned U.S. citizens work full-time jobs. These individuals make up a sizable workforce—870,000 workers are currently incarcerated.
- Goal 1: Raise awareness around modern day slave wages in prison “sweatshops” and “fire camps.” Beginning in the state of California, we will work to build a formidable coalition that includes unions, directly impacted people, and civil rights groups to demand that workers in prison are paid a livable wage. People in prison who earn a fair wage contribute to the growth of the economy and to public safety.
- Goal 2: Use momentum in California to spur a national conversation and identify partnerships and coalitions in other states to scale our policy impact.
Free the Vote Coalition
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 6, “Free the Vote”, would restore voting rights to every person on parole in California on the 2020 ballot.
- Goal 1: Work with the Free the Vote Coalition to pass ACA 6 through the legislature.
- Goal 2: After successfully passing the amendment, run an educational campaign to gain voter support for the ballot initiative.
- Goal 1: Play an integral role in California in partnership with grassroots partners to implement 10 big ideas over the next 10 years to drastically reduce incarceration and improve outcomes for system-involved youth in California. Building on our track record of success, our work has impacted youth who were tried as adults and sent to die in prison without age appropriate services. In California, our successfully passed legislation has impacted around 300 people who were sentenced to life without parole while under the age of 18. Most recently, California is now prohibited from trying 14 and 15 year-old children as adults.
In 2019, our Day of Empathy reached thousands of participants at 45 events in 37 states with 500+ face to face meetings with lawmakers, people impacted by the issue, and notable allies. This day of action propelled legislative successes across the country, positively impacting currently and formerly incarcerated people helping to change the narrative.
- Goal 1: Establish a more effective channel of communication for the Empathy Network to centralize communications for our 3000+ volunteers and advocates.
- Goal 2: Turn the Empathy Network from a Day of Action to a Year of Empathy – building capacity, community, and connections between Empathy Network groups to reach thousands more Americans.
- Goal 3: Leverage the Empathy Network to provide support and services to the 10,000+ people coming home from federal prison as a result of the First Step Act.
- Goal 4: Build the Empathy Network into a base as a driving force for our work and vision by creating Networks in all 50 states, up from the current 49 states which have Networks.
- Goal 5: Empower the Empathy Network to engage in advocacy, voting rights, and community organizing.