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Public Safety & Justice Agency Committee update

Updated: Jul 21, 2022

Big thanks to Robert Gonzalez for his detailed write-up! If you want to know more about Robert check out his info here. One more shout-out to Decarcerate Sacramento who provided us with some incredibly helpful info on the background and development of this committee.

Let's hear a recap from the Community Care First Coalition:

Last summer, community members fought for the creation of a working committee to be formed alongside the new Public Safety & Justice Agency (PSJA). The new agency’s stated goals were to reduce the jail population and improve jail conditions, after the County became fully informed about the facts and withdrew their support to expand the downtown jail in March of 2021. Community knew that the new agency would need to bring together all county and community stakeholders to form a comprehensive plan for reducing the jail population and collaborate on decision-making, just as other counties have successfully done.

On August 10th, 2021, CEO Edwards said that this new committee would be “focused on the decarceration effort” and that the purpose would be for “planning and participatory decision-making around how we reduce the jail population.”

Then, ten months later, on June 15th, 2022 the County discussed possible adoption of The Public Safety And Justice Agency Advisory Committee Charter (Continued From June 14, 2022; Item No. 82) (County Executive)."

The 2022 proposal was far from what the community fought for last summer when the new Public Safety & Justice Agency was being created.

Instead, the County’s 2022 proposal advocated for a committee, led by the PS&J Deputy Executive, and chosen by the CEO, that would “consider and discuss” the county’s public safety. The proposal further stated that the committee would meet privately, four times a year to receive feedback to seemingly improve the system. However, the proposal has no stated goal to produce a plan of any kind.

The Board of Supervisors was informed by County Counsel during the meeting that since the 2022 proposal was not for a Brown Act compliant committee, and instead was for one that does not advise the Board of Supervisors directly, the committee as proposed did not need Board approval. To their credit, Supervisors Serna and Nottoli, pushed back on this, saying that the 2021 intended vision for this committee was to form a public committee and that would be Brown Act compliant.

The decision went to a vote, and unfortunately Supervisors Kennedy, Desmond, and Frost voted against making this committee publicly transparent and accessible. This decision effectively passed the proposal for a closed-door committee that will “assist” the Deputy CEO of Public Safety & Justice, Eric Jones.

We had hoped that the appointment process would be more transparent and equitable, but CEO Edwards will be making the final decisions on appointments. We will share the application once it’s available.

Despite this committee not being what the Board and the community intended, we hope that you will consider applying! We need more voices echoing the need for prevention over punishment and community care models as the most humane, healthy, sustainable, and racially equitable solution.

A few more specific details on the item that came before the Board can be found below:

Here's the official pitch: The Public Safety and Justice Advisory committee is being brought to the Sacramento Board of Supervisors for approval. This committee was brought up as an idea to help oversee and bring community input to County Departments and offices including the Conflict Criminal Defender, Coroner, Probation, and Public Defender; serve as liaison to the Offices of the Sheriff and District Attorney and the Law Library, and coordinate with the Office of the Inspector General, Superior Court, Criminal Justice Cabinet and the Community Corrections Partnership.

Here's the stated purpose and structure: The Public Safety and Justice Advisory Committee will be responsible for advising the Public Safety and Justice Agency Deputy County Executive. Key elements of the Public Safety and Justice Advisory Committee structure include:

  • Deputy County Executive will act as Committee Chair

  • Meetings at least quarterly and more often as needed

  • Open, honest and respectful dialogue will be paramount for shared public safety discussion that will be grounded with common definitions

  • All meetings shall include an agenda to guide the conversations

  • Committee members may propose agenda items to the Committee Chair

  • Committee meetings will be closed to non-members from the public

  • County staff will be responsible for maintaining meeting records

  • Members will come from a cross section of representation

  • Committee members will serve a term of two years

  • Committee Chair may fill vacancies on the committee and may remove a member from the committee at any time without cause

The highlighted passages seem to stand out as especially worrisome. We'll have to watch closely.

Please stay tuned for alerts and updates! Hopefully together we can make sure this committee is as effective as possible.

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