The Ella Baker Center recently organized a candlelight vigil in front of the Alameda County Administration building in downtown Oakland where community members and faith leaders demanded more funding for jobs, not jails.
As part of the Ella Baker Center’s “50 Percent Jobs Not Jails” campaign, the vigil, held on Dec. 10 Human Rights Day, sought to gain the attention of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to allot half of the public safety budget to fund community-based programs that prioritize restorative justice, employment, healthcare, and housing initiatives.
During the event, “50% for,” “Jobs Not Jails,” “Books Not Bars,” and “Healthcare Not Handcuffs,” were projected on the side of the building to bring awareness to the campaign’s priorities.
Local organizers Maria Dominguez and Darris Young spoke on the challenges that the formerly incarcerated face when released from prison, including limited access to job training and transitional housing. In order to get a fresh start and succeed, they said, they need access to services.
One organization that participated in the vigil was Timelist Group, Inc., which offers career mentoring and life skills classes to formerly incarcerated individuals. With additional funding, the organization hopes to provide housing, mental health counseling, a food bank, and a work apprenticeship program.
The “50 Percent Jobs Not Jails” campaign demands that the county provide more funding for programs that provide these essential services, helping to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.
Sharing a quote from Ella Baker, Darris Young said, “Give light, and people will find the way.”