*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.
We are in another election year and it is (nearly past) time to start considering not only who you want to vote for as president and to represent you regionally, but also to start doing your research on your local ballot measures. Or alternatively, Angelinos can follow this series of blog posts to get a summary of what's at stake with each measure, who is in support of and opposed to it, and a progressive's guide on checking No or Yes.
We have a very important measure on the Los Angeles ballot this year; Measure J. This Measure is to allocate funds toward alternatives to incarceration and law enforcement. As we know, there is systemic inequality and racism in our criminal justice system, yet we pour billions and billions of dollars into policing, and in funding incarceration. We can see that poverty is criminalized and neighborhoods that are primarily black are overpoliced. But what we do not see is adequate funding going toward addressing poverty, creating opportunity, providing social services, offering a better education, and otherwise investing in these communities to better address the underlying issues that drive crime.
A vote for YES on Measure J is a vote for a charter amendment to allocate money from the general fund to alternatives to incarceration in Los Angeles County. This measure would amend the county`s charter with a requirement that a minimum of 10% of the county's general fund be funneled into community programs and alternatives to incarceration, including pretrial and non custody services and health services.
There are many programs and services that would be positively impacted by Measure J passing. It would allocate to: job training and low-income jobs; youth development programs; investment in small minority-owned businesses; and housing vouchers, rent assistance, and transitional housing. It also specifically wants to provide funds for much needed alternatives to incarceration; our system is far too punitive instead of rehabilitative. These alternatives would include: pre-trial non-custody services and treatment; community-based restorative justice programs; health services, counseling, and mental health and substance use disorder services.
In addition, it would authorize the Board of Supervisors to develop a process to allocate these funds. And it would also authorize this Board of Supervisors to reduce the amount that is allocated with a vote of 4-1 during a declared fiscal emergency.
A vote for YES on Measure J would be a vote to help bring relief to struggling communities and right the wrongs that historical underfunding and intentional and blatantly racist exclusion have wrought in these neighborhoods. Measure J is a vote for restorative action and is very much needed.