The U.S. policing and carceral system has a long history of threatening rather than protecting Black lives. And now, after more than half a century of commissions, reports, and broken promises, Black people and other marginalized groups continue to be killed, brutalized, and harassed by law enforcement in their own communities. We are organizing around a series of public policy changes that will protect the basic health, safety, and well-being of all people. These changes focus on replacing most policing functions with community-based alternatives and reconstructing remaining police functions to ensure community trust and legitimacy. We seek to end the victimization of Black communities and other marginalized groups by law enforcement, and to reallocate public funding away from policing towards schools and communities.
PICO California and its coalition partners and allies have placed California at the vanguard of restorative justice policy reforms, helping to pass numerous pieces of legislation that raised the state standard for using police lethal force, improved accessibility and transparency in the pardon and commutation process, restored Californians’ right to know whether and how departments investigate and hold accountable officers who use force, plant evidence, or sexually assault civilians, and made it illegal for local police departments to collaborate with federal immigration authorities.
After the killings of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and countless others, PICO California led protests calling for an end to decades of increasing investment in militarized policing and a rebalancing of budget priorities towards restoration and community empowerment.
Our History of Organizing for Restorative Justice
- As police misconduct and violence continued to lead headlines across California and the entire country, PICO California drove thousands of emails, texts, and calls to key legislators in support of public safety reform efforts. The Kenneth Ross Jr. Act permanently strips away the badges of officers found to have committed serious misconduct and ends the “wash, rinse and repeat cycle” of officers moving from department to department even if they have a questionable history. Forty-six states already have this law, which prevents officers from getting hired anywhere else, much like a doctor losing a medical license. Now, state regulators can revoke the licenses of officers who commit “serious misconduct,” including using excessive force, committing sexual assault, displaying bias, and participating in a law enforcement gang.
- Helped pass Propositions 47, which reduced from felonies to misdemeanors certain low-level drug and property crimes. Each year, the state savings generated by the implementation of Proposition 47 are deposited into the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund.
- Helped pass Proposition 57, which allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons, changes policies on juvenile prosecution, and authorizes sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, and education.
Helped pass SB 2, protecting communities from abusive police officers by creating a statewide decertification process.
- Helped pass the CRISES Act, investing $10 million in community-based alternatives to police response during local emergencies local emergency situations, including mental health crises, homelessness, intimate partner violence, and substance abuse.
- Faith in the Valley spearheaded efforts to prevent the city of McFarland from converting two correctional facilities into federal immigrant detention centers.
- Sacramento ACT helped push the Sacramento City Unified School District to sever its contract with city police and reallocate funding towards alternatives.
- In San Francisco, in part due to the community organizing of Faith in Action Bay Area, voters approved measures that will create a Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and Inspector General position.
- LA Voice helped convince the LA City Council to cut $150 million from the LAPD budget and passed a measure allocating 10% of the County budget to community investment and alternatives to incarceration.
As a result of the Oakland Ceasefire Partnership achieving a 50% reduction in homicides in Oakland over five years, PICO California secured five years of funding for a dedicated Ceasefire organizer at Faith in Action East Bay to continue the remarkable progress.
- PICO California created the Peacemakers Fellowship, an initiative to provide emotional and psychological support to young men and women who have been the victims of violence and help them along the path to empowerment. Since 2018, over 60 fellows have been connected to healing mechanisms, support strategies, mentors, and a community of other survivors working together in a supportive network. Those closest to the pain are those closest to the solutions for their communities, and Peacemakers have become leaders in PICO California’s efforts to transform the state’s public safety system from punishment to rehabilitation, leading winning policy advocacy efforts to create non-police responses to certain emergency calls and establish a de-certification process for police officers who commit gross misconduct.