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Statement: Rubicon Programs Stands Against ACA Repeal

By Jonathan Bash June 27, 2017

RICHMOND, CALIF. — "No health care bill should be written in darkness. Don't be distracted. Don't get complacent. The U.S. Senate is counting on the American people to lose their focus and let them slip a terribly unpopular piece of legislation past us.

If we don't fight, 22 million people will lose their lifeline and tens of thousands will die.

We in the Bay Area must fight back, we must call our own representatives to tell them to stand strong against this repeal. And we must call, tweet and email every Republican who is on the fence.

Rubicon Programs, and our allies combating poverty throughout the Bay Area, stand strong against this legislation – legislation that will increase profits for big business and roll back the historic health gains for low-income people brought by the Affordable Care Act.

We also stand together to guarantee the right to health care here in California. Until we have a single-payer program, our current system will continue to extend the cycle of poverty and promote human suffering."

Jane Fischberg

CEO and President, Rubicon Programs

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In Furtherance of Justice | Wiping the Slate Clean

By Lisa Dyas June 7, 2017

Rubicon's legal team helps our participants with a wide variety of legal assistance to equip them to remove barriers that may stand in their way of achieving their long-term goals. This question and answer series with Rubicon's staff attorneys explores the many intersections between breaking the cycle of poverty and the law.

This week, In Furtherance of Justice, talks to Rubicon attorney, Sarah Williams, about Clean Slate Day 2017. 

Wiping the Slate Clean

What is Clean Slate Day?

Clean Slate events help people with criminal records access expungements and felony reductions which in turn remove barriers to employment and housing.  Rubicon has been involved in organizing Clean Slate events in Contra Costa County since 2011. What was special about the last two Clean Slate Days, including the most recent one held this past April, was that we were actually able to convene court.  Unlike past events where we've met with people and explained their rights and the process of getting records expunged, we now have an official court proceeding with a judge granting expungements. 

In 2017, we also served more people than ever; 320 people had more than 1,000 cases expunged. To put it in perspective, more cases were cleared in a single day than what is typical for a whole year. To go through the process as an individual, the process can take anywhere from six to nine months. 

 

What does it mean to have a record expunged? 

Having your record expunged gives you the legal right to say, “No,” when asked if you have a criminal background on a job or housing application. In California, an expungement does not take the conviction off the record, but it really clears the way for people with conviction histories to find employment and housing. 

In California expungement is available to a lot of cases. As long as the sentence for a conviction does not include state prison, it is eligible for expungement. As our state is moving further away from sending people to prison and toward shorter sentences in county jail, more people will be eligible for this life-changing remedy. 

 

What role do community partnerships play in pulling off an event of this scale?

A lot of credit goes to Judge Diana Becton who was the person who initially approached the Public Defender’s office in 2016 to make our Clean Slate events more than information sessions. She wanted to do something in conjunction with her church at Easter, and actually hold court. These are inspirational events for both the participants and the community.

The District Attorney’s office was also involved in approving cases to be expunged. Rubicon also played a big role in the planning for the event because we actually have a great deal of experience running Clean Slate events. We also worked closely with the county Reentry Coordinator, Bay Area Legal Aid, Safe Return Project, and the Reentry Success Center. The Public Defender’s office was responsible for the lion’s share of the work, and really went into overdrive to approve hundreds of cases to present to the District Attorney.

 

What do Rubicon attorneys do for Clean Slate Day?

We help with logistics, we get the word out about the event, and this year we helped bring in the Department of Child Support Services as a partner to have somebody to check people's cases and answer questions.  Of course, a lot of our responsibility is just making sure that our Rubicon participants are able to access the services. I think it’s really helpful for our participants to have people actively thinking about legal remedies that will help them find stable employment, and housing. We are also there on the day of the event to support our participants and to be available to provide information and referrals for the many walk-ins who come to the event.

 

What impact does having their record expunged have on Rubicon participants? 

Having cases expunged opens up employment and housing doors, but it can also make people feel better, freer. It is a really concrete way that they can move away from their past mistakes and finally feel that they have been forgiven. Our participants say all the time that they did their time and want to move on, but in reality that's not what happens.  There are all these collateral consequences to having a conviction; being kept out of employment, being kept out of housing, not being able to go to school. I think, too, that standing in front of the judge, and hearing her say, " Congratulations, good job," as opposed to sentencing you to jail -  that's priceless. It's like official forgiveness.

Events like Clean Slate Day are so important because they help people get a second chance without having to jump through a million hoops. Even if you're trying to do everything right, you just encounter roadblock after roadblock. An event like Clean Slate can allow so many more people to access this remedy that can positively change their lives. Expungement doesn't change the past or lessen the consequences of a crime, it is about making it easier to reintegrate into society.  

One Rubicon participant actually had nine different cases expunged at the event. He had an extensive RAP sheet and had been getting in trouble for over 15 years. But now he is in recovery and is on the right track. He came with a whole cheering section and sat through the entire day, watching and supporting as the people around him have their convictions expunged and their felonies reduced. With these expungements he is well on his way to moving beyond his past mistakes and being able to work full-time to support his family.

Could changes at the federal level impact future Clean Slate Days?

Most criminal law is state law, and while there are federal prisons and crimes, it's not that common. California has really been moving in the right direction toward criminal justice reform with legislation like AB 109 and Prop 47, which took a bunch of low level felonies and reclassified them as misdemeanor, Prop 57 that helps people get out of prison faster. I actually think that as we see more regressive action at the federal level, we will see a bigger push toward reform and social justice at the state level. 

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In Furtherance of Justice | Small Document, Big Impact

By Lisa Dyas March 7, 2017

Rubicon's legal team helps our participants with a wide variety of legal assistance to equip them to remove barriers that may stand in their way of achieving their long-term goals. This question and answer series with Rubicon's staff attorneys explores the many intersections between breaking the cycle of poverty and the law.

This week, In Furtherance of Justice, talks to Rubicon attorney, Pat Kaspar, about the impact that a driver's license makes for someone trying to break the cycle of poverty.  

Small Document, Big Impact

Why are suspended licenses such a pervasive problem for Rubicon participants?

It's pretty simple; almost all of our program participants are low-income, and traffic tickets are expensive. There is a small window of time in which to pay your fine, and if you miss it, the amounts increase quickly. It's much easier to pay a ticket if you don't have to weigh it against food and lodging. 

The system is also confusing and hard to navigate. The notices are confusing to everyone! Many of our participants do not understand what their options are, and if they do, they might not be comfortable asserting themselves. Many of our participants have had uncomfortable experiences with courts for a lot of reasons. 

Ultimately, poverty should not be the reason that people are not able to drive. 

If someone isn’t trying to get a job as a driver, is a suspended license really that big of a deal?

Many non-driving jobs require a driver's license. Many employers, for example, don't want you taking the bus if you need to get to a meeting. It is also much easier to look for work when you can drive. Many low-income communities are undeserved by public transportation, and not driving can significantly limit a job search. The activities of daily living like shopping, medical appointments, and childcare are also much easier when you have a license. 

What role does Rubicon’s legal team play in helping participants reinstate their licenses?

The first thing that we do is talk to the participant to find out how they lost their license in the first place. It’s helpful to understand the whole story to help figure out the best solution. The delight of this job is building trust with your client; this can take time and patience.  

Depending on the circumstances, we might be able to utilize the Amnesty Program, have a large portion of the fine waived, or set up a payment plan to help them get their license back quickly. Unfortunately, the Amnesty program is ending March 31, 2017.   Contra Costa and Alameda County also have Homeless Courts that help people get certain fees and fines forgiven. The Court experience can also be incredibly positive and affirming. As part of the process, we work closely with other Rubicon staff, advocate for reasonable payment schedules, and represent our clients in court.  Additionally, people can lose their licenses, for example, because of child support obligations or the need to complete a court-ordered DUI class.  We can help identify these situations and offer suggestions on resolving the matter.

How is the legal community working to change how fees, fines, and suspensions are handled?

It's an issue that the whole community is aware of, and we know that the problem of unpaid tickets leading to suspensions is a particular hardship for low income people. Our legal team has participated in the Contra Costa Traffic Work Group. Part of our work advocated for making traffic court more accessible. We provided feedback to the courts on traffic violation forms, for example, to make them easier to understand for our clients. Rubicon is also lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against Solano County to change the practice of using license suspension as a way of collecting unpaid fines. 

The work of changing the way U.S. courts approach this issue is happening across the country. There is a solid connection being made between how fees are assessed and their impact on low-income communities. A great resource to understand the problem is Not Just a Ferguson Problem, a report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the SF Bay Area that illustrates the issues and provides potential solutions. 

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Lending Circles build credit, community, and help make dreams a reality

By Lisa Dyas February 27, 2017

After completing Rubicon's intensive two-week Foundations Workshop, and Financial Boot Camp, Angela was committed to building her assets to better support her family. She had already found employment at a local food company, but she still lacked the cash and credit score necessary to secure stable, permanent housing for her family. 

In October 2015, Angela decided to enroll in Lending Circles to help build her credit through a no-interest loan that would help her achieve her housing goals. Angela and seven other Rubicon participants each agreed to contribute $50 a month over the course of seven months and in turn, each would receive a $350 disbursement. Lending Circles at Rubicon are a partnership with Mission Asset Fund (MAF) to help people who do not have access to mainstream banking products build their credit. As with a credit card or traditional installment loans, payments to the circles are reported to the credit bureaus, and can help to significantly improve or establish credit.

Angela was the first member of her group to receive the disbursement. Because she had learned to manage and monitor her money closely, Angela noticed that an extra $350 dollars had been deposited into her account before her Rubicon Financial Coach even had the chance to call her. Certain that there had been a banking error, she said, "there was no way I was touching that money, I'm trying to build my credit!"

The disbursement made an immediate impact on Angela and her family. Working with Rubicon's Senior Housing Coach, she was able to find an apartment she could afford, and thanks to her Lending Circles loan, she had enough cash on-hand to cover her moving expenses. She and her family have now been stably housed for over a year. "To look at where I am now is a delightful feeling," she said. "I was running from my credit for so long, but now I just want to see it grow." Angela's long-term goals now include becoming a homeowner in the near future.

Angela's newfound credit stability has also opened many other doors. When her daughter enrolled in college in Los Angeles to study fashion design, she was able to co-sign the lease on an apartment that enables her daughter to live close to school in a safe environment. "Before I was always the one asking my mom or friends for help," Angela said. "To be able to do that was a pleasure." She is also passing along her knowledge of budgeting and credit building to her daughter in hopes that she will start her adult life on solid financial footing. 

Lending Circles also build community, and Angela and the other members of her group continue to stay in touch. As the first person to receive the disbursement and use it successfully to achieve her goals, she became the groups’ inspirational leader. "We were like a family," she said of her experience, "and took inspiration from each other’s successes." 

She also encourages members of her community who are struggling to try Rubicon's services and Lending Circles. One friend recently reached out to Angela to thank her for encouraging her to stick with the program. Hearing Angela's story encouraged her to stick with Rubicon's intensive two-week Foundations Workshop.  "Once I let her know my story, she stayed," Angela said. "She just told me that she is going to be joining Lending Circles soon, too." 

 

About Mission Asset Fund

People around the world lend and borrow with each other when bank loans aren’t an option. With technology and credit reporting, MAF’s Lending Circles transforms this traditional practice to help borrowers access affordable loans, build credit history, and set them up for a financially stable future. This unique social loan program has rapidly proved its ability to help people open bank accounts, avoid predatory lenders, and quickly and safely build their credit history.

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Fueled by hope. Moving toward justice.

By Lisa Dyas February 17, 2017

Last year we mourned the deaths of the men, women, boys and girls who have lost their lives to gun violence, including hundreds at the hands of law enforcement. Our mission is to break poverty in East Bay communities, but progress is difficult when we exist in a state of perpetual grief.

We cannot break poverty without dismantling the systems of injustice that not only prevent the communities we serve from rising up, but also put people’s lives at risk. We honor the lives of those who were taken too soon, and dedicate our ongoing work to ending the systems of oppression that worked against them.

The story of our communities, however, remains one of hope. Our participants show up every day eager to learn, and ready to put in the work to achieve their goals. They continue to dream of a better future for themselves, their families, and friends. And when we do experience tragedy and heartache, we do not suffer in solitude, but rather face each new challenge united in community.

This is the story of Rubicon in 2016. It was the year when our participants spoke at city council meetings in support of a fair housing ordinance. They organized peaceful protests in response to violence. They are making decisions about program structure and content, and participating in hiring panels. They are organizing community events and are the faces that welcome new people to our programs.

The next year will likely bring new challenges, but our core values of hope, justice, and humility will continue to guide us. We will not sit in silence, but will work to lift up the voices of our participants and fight back against injustice wherever we find it.

Together we have the will and the strength to change the world for the better.
 

Read our 2016 Annual Report>>

Black people killed by law enforcement in 2015 & 2016 

The following list represents only a fraction of the people who lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement in 2015 and 2016. We highlight the deaths of Black Americans because of the impact of these lives in our communities. 

2015

Leslie Sapp III \Ron Sneed Hashim Hanif Ibn Abdul-Rasheed \Omarr Julian Maximillian Jackson \Artago Damon Howard\Marcus Golden\Mario Jordan\Donte Sowell\Kavonda Earl Payton\Terence Walker\Dewayne Carr\Isaac Holmes\Tiano Meton\Demaris Turner\Darin Hutchins\Jermonte Fletcher\Edward Donnell Bright\Ledarius D. Williams\Yuvette Henderson\Dewayne Deshawn Ward\Jeremy Lett\Jimmy Ray Robinson Jr.\Markell Atkins\Herbert Hill\James Allen\Desmond Luster\Anthony Bess\Phillip Watkins\Lavall Hall\Janisha Fonville\Stanley Lamar Grant\Douglas Harris\A'Donte Washington\Glenn Lewis\Thomas Allen\Cornelius J. Parker\Ian Sherrod\Charly Leundeu Keunang\Shaquille Barrow\Fednel Rhinvil\Tyrone Ryerson Lawrence\Naeschylus  Vinzant\Andrew Anthony Williams\Tony Robinson\Monique Jenee Deckard\Cedrick Lamont Bishop\Anthony Hill\Jamie Croom\Theodore Johnson\Terry Garnett Jr.\Bobby Gross\Kendre Alston\Brandon Jones\Richard White\Denzel Brown\Devin Gates\Walter J. Brown III\Nicholas Thomas\Jeremy Lorenza Kelly\Jamalis Hall\Megan Hockaday\Angelo West\Byron Herbert\Mya Hall\Robert Washington\Darrin Langford\Eric Harris\Justus Howell\Walter Scott\Paul Anderson\Desmond Willis\Dexter Pernell Bethea\Don Smith\Mack Long\Colby Robinson\Tevin Barkley\Dante Noble\Frank Shephard\Jeffrey Kemp\Thaddeus McCarroll\Daniel Wolfe\William Chapman\Reginald McGregor\Todd Jamal Dye\David Felix\Terrance  Kellom\Jared Johnson\Alexia Christian\Jeffrey Adkins\Elton Simpson\Brendon Glenn\Nephi Arriguin\Dedrick Marshall\Sam Holmes\Lionel Lorenzo Young\Kelvin Goldston\D'Angelo Stallworth\Ronell Wade\Anthony Gomez\Chrislon Talbott\Marcus Wheeler\Javoris Washington\Jerome Caldwell\Caso Jackson\Anthony Briggs\Dalton Branch\James Strong\Kenneth Dothard\Kevin Allen\Usaamah Rahim\Demouria Hogg\QuanDavier Hicks\Isiah Hampton\Charles Ziegler\Fritz Severe\Deng Manyoun\Kris Jackson\Trepierre Hummons\Alfontish Cockerham\Tyrone Harris\Damien A. Harrell\Spencer McCain\Kevin Lamont Judson\Victor Emanuel Larosa\Robert Elando Malone\Kawanza Beaty\Jason Hendley\Marcellus Jamarcus Burley\Tremaine Dantzler\Martice Milliner\Javon Hawkins\Freddie Blue\Eugene McSwain\Salvado Ellswood\Frederick Farmer\Chacarion Avant\Anthonie Smith\Edward Foster III\Albert Joseph Davis\Darrius Stewart\Samuel DuBose\Andre Dontrell Williams\Devon Guisherd\Dontae L. Martin\Bryan Keith  Day\Earl Jackson\Khari Westly\Antonio Clements\Darius D. Graves\Raymond Hodge\Keshawn Dominique Hargrove\Charles Bertram\Christian Taylor\Tsombe Clark\Derrick Lee Hunt\Shamir Terrel Palmer\Andre Green\Nathaniel Wilks\Redel Jones\Reginald Marshall\Garland Tyree\Asshams Pharoah Manley\Allen Matthew Baker\Benjamin Peter Ashley\Frederick Roy\Mansur Ball-Bey\Deviere Ernel Ransom\Thaddeus Faison\Bobby Troledge Norris\Curtis Smith\Bertrand Davis\Yonas Alehegne\Felix Kumi\James Marcus Brown\Cedric Maurice Williams\La'vante Trevon Biggs\Angelo Delano Perry\India Kager\Mohamed Ibrahim\Tyrone Holman\Brandon Foy\Clifford Butler\Joseph Thompson Johnson-Shanks\Tyrone Bass\Bobby R. Anderson\Dante Osborne\Keith Harrison McLeod\Jeremy McDole\James Anderson\Anthony McKinney\Junior Prosper\Brandon Lamar Johnson\Jeffery McCallum\Charles A. Pettit\Gary Carmona Boitano\Bernard Brandon Powers\Jason Day\Leslie Portis\Kaleb Alexander\Martin  Ryans Jr.\Ricky Javenta Ball\Dequan Williams\Corey Jones\Dion Lamont Ramirez\Lamontez Jones\Lawrence Green\Adriene Jamarr Ludd\Rolly Thomas\Dominic Hutchinson\Kevin Brunson\Marquesha McMillan\Tyrie Cuyler\Anthony Ashford\Jerry Michael Graham Jr.\Deaunte Lamar Bell\Tony Berry\Bennie Lee Tignor\James Covington\John Allen\Delvin Simmons\Ryan Quinn Martin\Moises Nero\Richard Perkins\Shane Whitehead\Jamar Clark\Yohans Leon\Demetrius Bryant\Jeray Chatham\Cornelius Brown\Marcus Meridy\Randy Allen Smith\Steve Dormil\Darick Napper\Nathaniel Harris Pickett\Freddy Baez\Darius Smith\Mario Woods\Raymone M. Davis\Carlumandarlo Zaramo\Miguel Espinal\Derek Stokes\Charles Edward Rosemond\Christopher Goodlow\Javario Shante Eagle\Nicholas Robertson\Calvin McKinni\Ronnie Dubose Carter\Trayvon Scruggs\Leroy Browning\Bobby Daniels\Michael Noel\Chan Leith\Kevin Matthews\Terrozza Tyree Griffin\Daquan Antonio Westbrook\Bettie Jones\Quintonio LeGrier\Keith Childress

2016

Germonta Wallace\Eric John Senegal\Rodney Turner\Carlton Antonio Murphy\Rakeem Bentley\Henry Bennett\Crayton West\Timothy Albert\Cedric Norris\Johnathan Bratcher\Janet Wilson\Christopher Kalonji\Randolph McClain\Christopher Michael Dew\Charles M. Smith\Bruce Kelley\Peter John\Antronie Scott\Marese V. Collins\Shalamar Longer\David Joseph\Eric Harris\Mohamed Barry\Peter Fanfan\Sahlah Ridgeway\Calvin Smith\Ali Eisa Abdalla Yahi\Calin Roquemore\Dyzhawn L. Perkins\Paul Gaston\Marcos Perea\Che Taylor\Kisha Michael\Marquintan Sandlin\Travis Stevenson\Christopher J. Davis\Greg Gunn\Cedric Ford\Kionte Desean Spencer\Akiel Denkins\Arteair Porter Jr.\Tyre Privott\Peter Gaines\Marco Loud\Keith Montgomery Jr.\Jacai Colson\Lamar Harris\Scott Bennett\Christopher Nelms\India Beaty\Thurman Reynolds\Robert Dentmond\Alexio Allen\Dominique Silva\Jermon Seals\Deriante Deon Miller\James Craig Simpson\Kimani Johnson\Matthew Vincent Wood\James Brown III\Cameron Gover\Kevin Hicks\Laronda Sweatt\Dazion Flenaugh\Lamont Gulley\Diahlo Grant\Quron Williams\Pierre Loury\Rodney Watts\Kisha Arrone\Richard Bard Jr.\George Tillman\Edson Thevenin\Rico Don Rae Johnson\Demetrius Dorsey\Jorevis Scruggs\Demarcus Semer\Willie Tillman\Joshua Brooks\Kendar del Rosario\Ashtian Barnes\Charlin Charles\Reginald Darnell Dogan\Burt Johnson\Deresha Armstrong\Ronald D. Williams\Alton Fitzgerald Witchard\Lionel Gibson\Jaffort Smith\Arthur DaRosa\Sean Ryan Mondragon\Jabril Robinson\Jessica Nelson-Williams\Kentrill William Carraway\Joshua Beebee\Michael Eugene Wilson Jr.\Vernell Bing\Doll Pierre-Louis\Devonte Gates\Dennis Hudson\Osee Calix\Michael Johnson\Willie Demetrius James\Rodney Rodriguez Smith\Demarco Rhymes\Henry Green\Willis N. Walker\John Michael Brisco\Keith Bursey\Lyndarius Cortez Witherspoon\John Williams\Michael Moore\Antwun Shumpert\Rashaun Lloyd\Raufeal M. Bostick\Isaiah Core\Quencezola Maurice Splunge\Deravis Caine Rogers\Jay Anderson\Angelo Brown\Ismael Miranda\Germichael Kennedy\Donte L. Johnson\Sherman Evans\Tyrone Reado\Lafayette Evans\Kawme Dejuan Patrick\Jai Lateef Solveig Williams\Sidney Washington\Alton Sterling\Philando Castile\Earnest Fells\Andre Johnson\Alva Burnett Braziel\Joseph Mann\Jason Brooks\Orville Edwards\Dayten Ernest Harper\Jermaine Johnson\Gavin Eugene Long\Derek Love\Austin Jerry Lee Howard\Bernard Wells\Jeff Cornell Tyson\Richard Risher\Devon Martes\Dalvin Hollins\Paul O'Neal\Donnell Thompson\Korryn Gaines\DeMarco Newman\Jamarion Rashad Robinson\Jawari Porter\Earl Pinckney\Darnell Wicker\Sylville Smith\Kenney Watkins\Colby Friday\Omer Ismail Ali\Kelley Brandon Forte\Donta Taylor\Jaqwan Julius Terry\Levonia Riggins\Michael Thompson\Jerome Damon\Moses Ruben\Robert Lee Brown\Sadiq Bishara-Abaker Idris\Gregory Frazier\Terrence Sterling\Markell Bivins\Tyre King\Terence Crutcher\Nicholas Glenn\Philip Hasan\Keith Lamont Scott\Oddis Bernard Colvin\Alfred Olango\Christopher Sowell\George Richards-Meyers\Douglas\Marrickus Rainey\Najier Salaam\Jacquarius M. Robinson\Carnell Snell\Donte T. Jones\Larry Daniel Matthews\Christopher Darnell Shackleford\Deric J. Brown\Deborah Danner\Demetrius Mac Moore (as of 10/25/16)

Source: Washington Post - github.com/washingtonpost/data-police-shootings/issues

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