2020 SFF AnnualReport - Page 10

SF’s Financial Justice Project Fights
Profiteering Off Incarcerated Young People
he system that incarcerates young people
— known by the euphemism “juvenile
justice” — is anything but just. In addition
to targeting Black and brown children
disproportionately, the system makes a
challenging process worse every step of the
way. Our grantees are working to change that.
These days, most of us don’t think about the
price of a phone call. After all, aren’t most
phone plans unlimited? Not if you are a
young person who has been sent to a juvenile
detention facility. In partnership with the
Young Women’s Freedom Center and the
Children’s Defense Fund of California, the
Financial Justice Project released research
showing the high price of phone calls from
youth lockups and the exorbitant cost of
items sold in jail stores. This research reveals
how youth lockups and jails profit from
incarcerated people and their families.
In some counties, phone calls are free.
However, this isn’t the case in all California
counties. A 15-minute call from a youth to
their family can range from $2.40 in Solano
County to $6.00 in San Mateo County to
a whopping $13.65 in San Benito County.
These high prices fall on families that can
least afford to pay and make it very hard for
them to keep in touch with their children. If
parents talked to their children once a day
for a month, they could spend hundreds of
2020 Annual Report
Thanks to research and advocacy from the
Financial Justice Project and their partners,
this is starting to change. In August 2020, San
Francisco became the first county in the nation
to stop generating revenue from incarcerated
people and their families, lifting an economic
burden from communities that could least
afford to pay, boosting connection to support
networks, and easing re-entry.
“As a formerly incarcerated woman, I often
had to choose between whether I could afford
a phone call home that month or whether I
wouldn’t call and make sure that my family had
enough to pay the bills while taking care of my
children,” said Amika Mota, Policy Director of
the Young Women’s Freedom Center. “This is a
huge win for San Francisco.”
California policymakers sent a clear message
that it is unacceptable to profiteer at the
expense of incarcerated people when
they passed a bill this year that would have
dramatically reduced the price of phone
calls and eliminated price gouging in all jail
commissaries – not just juvenile facilities.
We were deeply disappointed that Governor
Newsom vetoed this bill, but we will continue to
fight for a system that treats the accused and
people who are incarcerated with fairness and

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