Thursday, Mar 2, 2023

Press Contacts: 

Joshua Stickney, Ella Baker Center, [email protected], 405-315-4151

Michael G. Bare, CURYJ, [email protected], 347-239-3656

OAKLAND – The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights released the following statement, co-signed by the Alameda County District Attorney Accountability Table, after the recent interim final directive guidance released by Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price:

“We applaud the guidance released by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, which directs prosecutors to not file or require sentence enhancements be added to charges.

“The original intent of sentence enhancements was to deter crime, but study after study has failed to find any evidence that this has worked. Instead, they have contributed to a dramatic growth in California’s prison population and disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx people.

“For decades sentence enhancements have been used by prosecutors to inflate jail and prison sentences, and keep families separated. The Alameda County DA’s directive to limit the use of sentence enhancements will restore balance in our courtrooms by ensuring more people feel empowered to take their case to trial.

“Our report, Who Pays, The True Cost of Incarceration on Families details how incarceration destabilizes entire families and communities. Many people who return from incarceration face extreme barriers to finding jobs and housing and reintegrating into society. Family members of incarcerated people also struggle with overwhelming debt from court costs, visitation and telephone fees, and diminished family revenue. The longer the sentence, the more severe these problems.

“Sentence enhancements shift local & state funds away from desperately needed community services and put significant financial burdens on taxpayers and families statewide—each additional year in prison costs over $106,131 per person. The Alameda County District Attorney’s guidance will save the county money and allow for reinvestments in community resources, housing, education, healthcare, and more. 

“People of color are systematically arrested and convicted at higher rates than their white counterparts. Once convicted, Black and Brown defendants are more likely to face

harsher and longer punishment. Sentence enhancements exacerbate existing racial disparities in the criminal justice system, waste critical resources, make it more difficult for people to re-enter society after incarceration, and tear families apart. Sentence enhancements are ineffective, expensive, and racially unjust.

“Research has shown that enhancements have resulted in skyrocketing rates of incarceration and drive prison overcrowding. Enhancements do not deter individuals from committing future crimes, do not reduce recidivism, and do not increase public safety.

“We are encouraged by the District Attorney’s move which shows that she is committed to transforming the way our community carries out accountability and justice.  This is a step in the right direction that moves us toward reducing our county’s use of carceral forms of punishment and beginning to heal the harm caused by incarceration.”

The above statement is co-signed by: 

Alameda County District Attorney Accountability Table

Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ)

Justice Reinvestment Coalition

Oakland Rising 

American Civil Liberties Union, Northern CA

East Bay Community Law Center