Op-eds

Thursday, June 7, 2018

For nearly twenty years our children have dealt with unprecedented gun violence in our schools and communities. No other generation has had to live with the fear of getting slaughtered at school, waking up to gun fire or ducking for cover in the middle of the night the way that Millennials and the iGeneration (iGen) have endured.

“I was only 12 as I sat in math class on October 8th,2012. I remember the sounds and the screams of my classmates … then I look down to my feet and I see a bullet next to my pink vans… After that day, I struggle with PTSD and still struggle with being afraid,” said Anahi Ballesteros a junior at Franklin High School in Stockton, CA.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Despite the cannabis market growing in 38 states, the federal government continues to assert its right to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.  This classification creates a very unique challenge for the industry to succeed and the ability to obtain banking services.

The Controlled Substances Act makes the illicit possession, production and distribution of cannabis and other scheduled substances a federal crime and it punishes those who knowingly facilitate the violations of this Act. It is illegal for financial institutions to take money that is derived from activity that is deemed illicit by the federal government. Financial institutions are also heavily regulated by the federal government and are subject to fines and civil penalties if they violate federal laws.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thousands of California youth are incarcerated every year for low-level offenses. Our youth deserve a better approach, one that can have the added benefit of reducing the disproportionate impact the justice systems have on youth of color, children with disabilities, girls, LGBTQ youth, and foster children.

It is time we stop incarcerating our children and start investing in their future. I will be asking the state of California to establish The Youth Reinvestment Fund, which would add $100 million to the State’s budget to improve outcomes of vulnerable youth populations using trauma informed, community and health-based interventions in lieu of arrest, detention and incarceration.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the Act) has served consumers well, and ensures fair debt collection related to credit card debt.  However, the Act does not protect individuals who have unpaid parking tickets, storage and towing fees from receiving multiple calls in one night from a debt collector using profane and offensive language in pursuit of collecting delinquent payments.

 Nobody plans on accumulating more debt than can be easily paid.  Yet, many people find themselves with debts that may leave them subject to harassment. Unfortunately there are no protections that prevent the use of loan shark tactics by debt collectors.  That is why when the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) came to me describing instances where courts ruled that people with certain debts were not protected from bullying behavior, I knew I had to author Assembly Bill 2825 (AB 2825).

Thursday, April 12, 2018

As the Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety and the Select Committee on The Status of Boys and Men of Color, I have visited many jails and prisons.  Regardless of the facility, I always leave with the belief that we can and should do more to change the path that leads these men, women and youth to incarceration.

Currently, we spend $11,000 per year to educate a child, but as a state, we spend over $300,000 to incarcerate each youth offender. In California over 80% of our youth prisoners are African American or Latino.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Communities of color have suffered through trauma for hundreds of years, and now science is beginning to recognize the impact that trauma has on our children, and their children.  Research in the field of epigenetics has shown that environmental factors experienced during life can affect our genes and be passed down to new generations.  Although we have spent a lot of time focusing on the social ramifications of oppression, it is important that we pay attention to the biological effects and create awareness about this topic.  That is why I am authoring Assembly Concurrent Resolution 177 (ACR 177) to raise awareness about intergenerational trauma and the role that epigenetic research plays in understanding that trauma.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

In the past, youth justice in California has tried a tough and heavy-handed approach, particularly on youth of color. We now know from solid research of youth development and juvenile justice that punishment should be our last approach, a recourse only taken when more effective options such as mental health services and community-based programs don’t work. Incarceration can have lifelong consequences on a young person. A prison stint means a youth is more likely to become a high school dropout and more likely to be chronically unemployed.

Almost 10 years ago, California decided to focus instead on rehabilitation, which resulted in the reduction of kids in state facilities from 10,000 to approximately 680. County facilities across the state have had similar reductions. It is now time for us to go a step further and reduce youth incarceration and reimagine how we prepare all of our youth for second chances and successful futures.