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August 2017 Essential Politics archives

This is Essential Politics for August 2017. Find our daily look at California political and government news over here.

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California Legislature

Common and J.Cole to take the stage at 'Imagine Justice' concert in support of bail, juvenile justice reform

Rapper, actor and activist Common on Monday is expected to draw up to 30,000 people to the Capitol Mall in Sacramento for a free concert in support of state legislation to overhaul California’s bail system and ensure the rights of young people under juvenile detention.

At Monday's “Imagine Justice" concert, former youth offenders shared their stories and activist Byronn Bain performed spoken word poetry. Musical guests on the bill included J.Cole, Goapele and Los Rakas.

The event was part of several advocacy and outreach efforts organized this week by Common and a coalition of criminal justice organizations, as lawmakers weigh a number of legislative proposals meant to advance the state's shift away from tough-on-crime policies. 

One of the most significant bills pending would drastically change the way most courts assign bail to offenders. Others would prohibit authorities from incarcerating children 11 and younger, mandate that judges cannot sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole and end the collection of costly court and administrative detention fees against their families.

Organizers said California's laws have led to overflowing prisons and jails, and a disproportionate number of people of color behind bars.

"We need to stop incarcerating our children, reform the criminal justice system, raise our voices and educate the public," said Michael Mendoza, an organizer with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.

Common, who co-starred in the movie "Selma" and won an Academy Award for the Best Original Song, "Glory," from that film, is expected to meet with Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers Tuesday. He will later perform at Folsom State Prison as part of his Hope and Redemption Tour.

"I believe it is my duty to lend my voice to the voiceless and stand with the men and women in prison who have been silenced for so long," Common said in a statement. "We need a justice system that is a tool for rehabilitation rather than a weapon for punishment."

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