LA County Moves Towards Justice

Published in the newsletter November 5, 2020


“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Martin Luther King Jr., 1965
Tuesday was a good day for justice in Los Angeles County, and across the state. While we all wait for every vote to be counted to determine who the next President of the United States will be, we can take a breath and take pride in how Californians voted in record numbers to advance justice for all people.
Measure J, the County ballot measure to dedicate significant funds to community services and alternatives to incarceration for LA’s most vulnerable communities, was victorious, securing 1,692,837 votes with 57% of the vote as of 5pm on 11/4/20. Huge congratulations to Measure J Co-chairs Eunisses Hernandez and Isaac Bryan, along with the Board of Supervisors, for leading this transformational shift in LA County’s justice system. From Eunisses’ victory message, “Measure J isn’t just progress for L.A. County, it’s a model for cities and counties around the country to begin to move towards thinking about addressing racial justice through public budgets.”
LA District Attorney, as of print time, no one has been declared the winner for the hotly contested race to lead the largest DA office in the country. As of 5pm 11/4/20, challenger, and former San Francisco DA George Gascon, held a solid lead with 1,585,533 votes and 54% of the vote. Two term incumbent Jackie Lacey had secured 1,363,290 votes, making up 46% of the vote, and votes are still be counted. LARRP was part of the DAAC, coalition to raise awareness and educate people in the reentry community about the role of the DA and the importance of casting a vote in that contest. The good news is nearly as many people cast a vote for DA as cast a vote for President. Democracy at work.
Prop 20, the regressive ballot measure to increase criminal penalties, reduce credit earning while incarcerated, and roll back Props 47 and 57 was soundly defeated statewide! With 72% of the precincts reporting, No on Prop 20 was leading with 62% of the votes cast. Huge congrats to Jay Jordan and all of our friends at Californians for Safety and Justice who led this charge. This was the most important ballot measure for LARRP and its huge victory is a reflection of the collective work the justice community has been doing for years, and the leadership of system impacted people across the state. LA County came out firmly against Prop 20, with 66% of votes cast against it. Prop 20 was a critical reminder of the importance of defending our previous policy victories as we bend the arc towards greater justice.
Prop 17, the ballot measure to restore the right to vote and run for office to people on parole, another top priority for LARRP, was declared victorious with 6,950,562 votes making up 59% of the vote as of print time. California now joins 16 states and Washington DC in restoring this most basic civic rights to all people who are not incarcerated. Voting and broader civic engagement reduces recidivism and helps people leaving incarceration reintegrate with their communities in a meaningful way. Huge congrats to LARRP Steering Committee Member Sam Lewis, Executive Director of ARC and his whole team for their brilliant leadership securing this right for our community.
Prop 25, the ballot measure to affirm the 2018 law that eliminated cash bail failed to pass, garnering less than 45% of the votes, meaning defendants in LA County and all of California will continue to wait for their court dates in jail if they are poor. However, many in the justice community applauded Prop 25’s defeat, citing concerns with the racial bias baked into the risk assessment tools proposed to replace the cash bail system. All agree the cash bail system is unjust, and we must redouble our efforts to find the right replacement for this archaic system.