Just a few days after Yes on R announced the endorsement of presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, actress and activist America Ferrera will also be joining the prestigious list of endorsers for their March 2020 ballot measure. Measure R, founded and chaired by artist, activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors, is a ballot measure that LA County will get to vote on in the upcoming March 3rd primary election that brings oversight, transparency and accountability to the LA Sheriff Department. This ballot measure is an important step towards fixing LA’s broken jail system by directly addressing problems of Sheriff deputy misconduct and corruption, and demanding solutions to severe overcrowding and inadequate mental health care in our jails.
Ferrera, best known for her roles in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and ABC’s Ugly Betty, is co-founder of Harness which formed in response to the 2016 presidential election, focusing on the importance of storytelling to shift culture and inspire action towards social change by activating a community of activists, artists and leaders in the entertainment industry. The mission of this group is to build relationships and collaborate on projects that advance civil rights. Ferrera is also an Executive Producer of NBC’s Superstore and Netflix’s forthcoming show Gentefied, of which she directed two episodes.
“I started my organization, Harness, with my husband Ryan Piers Williams and our friend Wilmer Valderrama in 2016 to connect artists and activists so that we could work together on imagining and creating a more just world,” said Ferrera. “My friend Patrisse Cullors and Yes on R have been pivotal in the fight for criminal justice reform on the ground here and I am thrilled to be an ally and resource in the effort to work towards more justice in Los Angeles.”
Coming from an immigrant family, Ferrera knows how important endorsing this measure is given 80% of those incarcerated in the L.A. County Jail system are Black and Latino, with Latinos making up 50% of the county Jail population. L.A. County’s jail is the biggest in the country and has a history of over-incarcerating people with mental illness and providing substandard mental healthcare inside the jails, Measure R gives the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission subpoena power (expanded legal powers) to effectively and independently investigate misconduct. The ballot measure will also give the County seven months to develop a plan (the “Comprehensive Public Safety Reinvestment Plan”) and feasibility study to reduce the jail population and reinvest the savings into treatment.
In addition to the news above, on the same day former L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca began his three-year jail sentence in Texas, Yes on R released their first-ever digital ad highlighting the violence and corruption of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department. This advertisement is available to view here on YouTube.
The Road to Measure R…
In 2019, Yes on R (formerly known as Reform LA Jails) collected a quarter million signatures to put Measure R on the ballot. It’s the first time in LA’s history that the people have taken criminal justice reform to the ballot box (and only the second citizen’s initiative in LA County history). Measure R grows out of a decade of organizing to stop Sheriff violence and abuse in the jails. In recent years LA County officials have been unable to get the Sheriff’s Department to provide requested documents, allow inspections, or even balance their budget, and Measure R will bring clarity to the statutes by establishing in county law that the Sheriff must answer to the Civilian Oversight Commission.
Demanding fairness for all, and accountability and transparency from our elected officials, Yes on R will end the cycle of corruption and misconduct that has plagued L.A. County for over a decade, invest in rehabilitation and mental health and save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year by ensuring people no longer sit in jail just because they can’t afford bail.
L.A. County now has the opportunity to fight for a justice system that works for all. For more information on the ballot and how you can vote, visit voteyesonr.org.
Los Angeles Voting Information:
February 3, 2020 – Vote by Mail
February 22, 2020 – Voting Centers Open
March 3, 2020 – Election Day
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