We’re organizing for a world without prisons where those directly impacted have the say in transforming their communities. Since 2011, CURYJ has helped write, co-sponsor, and support over 50 bills and ballot initiatives promoting racial and social justice.

Our Approach

We bring the voices of those most impacted by an issue to the table when developing and campaigning for new legislation. In our vision, organizing and advocacy work is youth-centered and elder-informed. We create systems-level change by building the next generation of young leaders. Our Dream Beyond Bars fellows learn how to organize and direct policy campaigns. Fellows attend coalition meetings and are mentored by our policy and program teams to engage with stakeholders, build community power, and craft policy.

Main Focus Areas

Youth Justice

Closing youth prisons, stopping youth incarceration, funding community-based alternatives

Criminal Systems Reform

Supporting currently and formerly incarcerated folks, ending the crimmigration pipeline, working towards abolition

Police Accountability

Defunding, decertifying, developing community-based alternatives to policing

Policy Wins

Our work to change policy and transform systems impacts hundreds of thousands of people across the state. Change at this level is sometimes incremental, sometimes dynamic. These are a few of CURYJ’s key wins over the years:

Oakland Gang Injunction

Ended the Fruitvale gang injunction: a practice of racial profiling disguised as crime prevention. CURYJ led the first community organizing effort in the nation to do this successfully, setting the stage for injunction defeats across the country.

California Act to Save Lives

CA AB 392 Instituted the toughest law in the country to hold law enforcement officers accountable for using unnecessary deadly force.

Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act

Prop 57 Ended the practice of direct file by DAs, which automatically sent California youth to adult prison.

Free the Vote 2020

Prop 17 Restored voting rights to over 57,000 Californians on parole.

The Prison Spending Scam

Defeat of Prop 20 Prevented a return to the heyday of mass incarceration by upholding recent criminal justice reforms.

Miranda Rights for Youth

CA SB 203 Extended Miranda Rights protections to 16 and 17-year-olds by requiring them to consult with a lawyer before being interrogated.

Cunningham Fix

CA SB 567 Would restrict a judge’s discretion to sentence a person to the high term by requiring aggravating facts to be presented to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

C.R.I.S.E.S Act

CA AB 118 Would create a 5-year pilot program to expand community-based emergency response alternatives to police regarding situations involving people experiencing homelessness, mental health crises, intimate partner violence, community violence, and substance use.

Police Decertification

CA SB 2 The Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act would strip badges from officers who commit serious misconduct, allow for independent investigations, and remove barriers to suing cops in civil court.

Current Campaigns

ACA 8 - End Slavery in CA

ACA 8 – End Slavery in CA (Wilson) Removes Slavery from CA Constitution

The HOME Act

AB 1306 – The HOME Act (Carrillo) Protects people from ICE transfers who are in CDCr and qualify for certain CJ reform laws (“youth offender” parole laws, elder parole, compassionate release, medical parole, SB 1437 / felony murder, the Racial Justice Act, and clemency). Does not apply to people in jails.


AB 1186 – The REPAIR Act (Bonta) Establishes a more accessible and sustainable system of compensation for crime survivors in place of youth restitution.

Family Unity Bill AB 990

The Family Unity Act

AB 958 – The Family Unity Act (Santiago) Increases visiting opportunities for families of incarcerated people and makes visiting a civil right for incarcerated people and their family members.


AB 702 – The PROMYSE (Promoting Youth Success & Empowerment) Act (Jackson) Reinvests JJCPA (Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act)dollars into communities. Ensures equal community representation in decision making by requiring counties’ JJCCs (Juvenile Justice Coordinating Councils), which decide how JJCPA funds are spent, to designate co-chairs and allocate 50 percent of its seats to community members.

Get Involved

You can make a difference. Visit our Take Action page to learn more about how to volunteer, petition, engage in events, or otherwise support our policy work.

For more information about our policy agenda or campaigns, reach out to our Policy & Legal Services Manager, J Vasquez, our Policy & Legal Director, Sonja Tonnesen-Casalegno, or our Director of Campaigns and Organizing, Frankie Ramos at policy@curyj.org. For more information about our youth-led policy initiatives and support for emerging leaders, contact our Youth Program Associate, Xochtil Larios .

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