This issue is dedicated to People Power, one of five drivers of change that underlies our Building Healthy Communities strategy.
People Power is based on the idea that when democracy thrives, health thrives. And democracy thrives when residents are active and engaged, especially those who have been historically marginalized and excluded from the decision-making process.
This newsletter focuses on two important stories about mass incarceration and criminal justice reform, in two different parts of California.
In Contra Costa, BHC advocates and their partners raised awareness about a longstanding county practice of holding parents and guardians financially responsible for cost of incarcerating their children, even if no charges were filed. These fines fell disproportionately on Black and Brown residents, contributing not only to financial pressure but also adding layers of toxic stress to families already near their breaking point. After a long campaign, advocates won reversal of this startlingly unjust policy.
In Santa Ana, our story explores how immigrant rights advocates built a broad coalition with the LGBTQ community, labor leaders and others to stop the city from renting empty jail beds to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. ICE used the vacant jail space to imprison immigrants seeking a new life in the United States. Advocates convinced the city to change course, and today those same leaders are exploring alternatives to repurpose the half-empty jail in ways that benefit the community.
These leaders show what People Power is all about!
Veterans of these campaigns are staying active in California today. They are inspiring hundreds of neighbors to join together, organize in protest, raise their voices high, and form broad coalitions that win transformative victories that promote fairness and equity.
I hope you enjoy learning more about their achievements, and I hope their work inspires you to build people power in your neighborhood.