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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

Reps. Bass Hosts Field Hearing on Criminal Justice in South L.A.

July 13, 2019
Press Release
LOS ANGELES – Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, called a field hearing in Los Angeles to examine California’s criminal justice reforms and whether or not the lessons learned from past policies can be applied on a national scale. It also explored California’s efforts to support individuals returning home after incarceration, and what more must be done going forward.

The hearing featured two panels in addition to Members of the Congressional Black Caucus in town for the State of Black America: Los Angeles series. The members present were Congressmen Hank Johnson (D-GA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Dwight Evans (D-PA), and Steven Horsford (D-NV).

“As a result of reforms here in California, incarceration levels in the state have decreased drastically,” said Chairwoman Bass. “California’s prison population had peaked at nearly 163,000 in 2006.  By 2018, the California prison population stabilized at around 115,000 incarcerated persons, which is still far above capacity, but leaves California with the 18th lowest incarceration rate in the country. I hope that my colleagues saw that we can in fact reduce mass incarceration safely but that we must do so with a focus on more than the numbers – we must focus on the people impacted and addressing their needs. We’ve come a long way but we have a ways to go.”

The hearing comes three days before Chairwoman Bass will gavel in a hearing focusing explicitly on women and girls and their unique relationship to the criminal justice system. The hearing will take place in Washington, DC on Tuesday, July 16th at 10 am and will be live streamed here.

Watch Panel 1 featuring Michael Romano (Director, Three Strikes Project & Justice Advocacy Project and Lecturer in Law, Stanford Law School), Taina Vargas-Edmond (Initiate Justice), and Charis E. Kubrin (Professor, Department of Criminology, Law & Society) here:

Watch Panel 2 featuring Susan Burton (A New Way of Life Reentry Project), Stanley Bailey (Durango, CO), and John Harriel aka “Big John” (2nd CALL) here: 

View photos here. Watch news coverage of the event below: