Mass Incarceration

California reparations task force weighs long list of harms, remedies

By practically any measure — be it the 485-page interim report issued in June, the handfuls of conferences, the hours of testimony — the work of the state Activity Pressure to Examine and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Individuals is sweeping and detailed.

How greatest to quantify the consequences of slavery and systemic racism on Black Californians, from housing and well being, to environmental hurt, policing and prisons, psychological well being?

And if you happen to can quantify, how a lot cash must be paid out in reparations? And who ought to get it? And other than cash, what bigger modifications must be made in authorities and society?

The 9 members of the duty pressure, together with San Diego Metropolis Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, wrestled with these questions over two days of public conferences on the San Diego State College campus that ended Saturday. They agreed on some proposals, debated others, and have extra to do in upcoming conferences.

By the top of June the duty pressure should ship a last report back to the state legislature with suggestions on what a reparations package deal would entail. These will simply be suggestions; it is going to be as much as legislators to undertake some or all of them sooner or later after which state companies to hold them out.

The scope of that work led the duty pressure on Saturday to determine to hunt extra time. Whereas guaranteeing the report will probably be completed by June 30, the duty pressure adopted a measure that may lengthen its life for an additional 12 months, which might be used to work to show suggestions into legal guidelines and insurance policies.

“We need to be certain that when the report is last we now have a while to verify it’s applied appropriately,” mentioned state Sen. Steven Bradford of Los Angeles. The duty pressure is the primary of its form within the nation, and might be a “highway map” for different states and even the federal authorities tackling the difficulty sooner or later, he mentioned.

That additionally means the work needs to be completed proper. “If we err right here it’s going to enable all of the naysayers to say we shouldn’t be doing this nationally,” he mentioned.

The duty pressure was created by way of Meeting Invoice 3121 authored by now-Secretary of State Shirley Weber, when she was a member of the Meeting representing elements of San Diego County. It was signed into regulation by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2020 and the committee started assembly in June 2021.

An interim report issued in June listed 5 classes of harms Black state residents have suffered and must be remedied. They’re: housing discrimination, mass incarceration, unjust property seizures, and the devaluation of black companies and well being care.

The query of financial compensation has attracted essentially the most consideration. In March the committee determined that eligibility for any future funds could be restricted to Black state residents who’re descendants of enslaved folks, or of a free Black individual dwelling within the U.S. by the top of the nineteenth century. That normal would exclude some people, resembling Black individuals who got here to the U.S. within the 1900s.

What that determine finally could be, and the way it could be paid out, just isn’t but determined. The committee did approve a suggestion Saturday that may create a brand new state company, the California American Freedman Affairs Company, which might oversee and monitor any future reparations laws in addition to course of reparations claims.

The financial damages are only one portion of the duty pressure’s work, which is delving into a large and diversified spectrum of points. On the assembly Saturday the duty pressure reviewed an extended listing of suggestions that may be a part of an general reparations routine.

These embrace requiring the state to formally apologize to Black Californians for previous fallacious and an express censure of Peter Hardeman Burnett, the primary elected governor of the state. A former slaveholder from Tennessee, as governor he advocated passing legal guidelines banning Blacks from the state.

The duty pressure’s interim report additionally famous that whereas California was admitted to the union as a free state in 1950, it adopted a fugitive slave regulation in 1852 that was harsher than the federal regulation, and banned Blacks and different non-Whites from testifying in any trial involving a White individual.

The proposals run dozens of pages. One requires closing 10 prisons within the state and utilizing the financial savings for the Freedman Bureau’s work. One other requires abolishing the loss of life penalty, and a 3rd for eliminating certified immunity — the authorized doctrine that shields regulation enforcement and different authorities brokers from legal responsibility for misconduct and abuse whereas on the job.

With the June 30 deadline quick approaching, Weber on Friday urged the duty pressure to press ahead so the proposal will be completed and proposals put into motion. “I need to be certain that the work will get completed, and the work continues,” she mentioned.

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Tha Bosslady

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