by Marijke Annis
The MOBB United for Social Change MUSC) Policy Committee drives advocacy initiatives for our advocacy arm, MOBB United, Inc.. As a committee, we research policies that impact Black men and boys, identify opportunities to advocate on behalf of our sons, and guide MOBB United's approach and responses to instances where Black men and boys have been victims of unjustified force and violence by police.
The Policy Committee works closely with our Call Center to mobilize our members to respond to key legislative issues and unjustified use of force by law enforcement. In response to the murder of Jordan Edwards in Balch Springs, TX, we issued a call to action asking members to demand the arrest and termination of the officer and release of the video evidence to the Edwards family. Thanks in part to the efforts of our Call Center, and all the Moms who contacted Balch Springs and Dallas County officials, the officer was terminated from his position and charged with the crime against Jordan.
This Spring, the Policy Committee identified key state legislation that would benefit our Black men and boys and worked with local members on passage of that legislation. In Louisiana, local member Frankie Robertson, (a member of the Policy Committee), worked with other members and with local organizations to secure passage of a Criminal Justice Reform package that included increased training requirements for law enforcement officers; expanded eligibility for alternatives to incarceration; streamlined the parole release process for nonviolent offenders; focused prison space for serious and violent offenders; some lowered mandatory minimum sentences as well as provisions to reduce re-offenses and improve re-entry processes.
In Texas, the Policy Committee worked with local members to pass the Sandra Bland Act, which included diversion to mental health facilities when a person in custody shows signs of mental duress, use of eye sensor technology to ensure safety of individuals in county jails, and de-escalation training for all Texas law enforcement officers.
In California, MOBB United for Social Change continues to support Senate Bill 10, which seeks to eliminate money bail. CA Senate passed their version of the bill, and the Assembly moved it out of committee on July 12th. We will continue to monitor this legislation as it moves through the Assembly.
The Policy Committee, in partnership with the Call Center, local MOBB United members and other advocacy groups, successfully pushed for Raise the Age legislation in New York. Governor Cuomo signed the legislation on April 10, 2017, resulting in 16- and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors being handled in Family rather than Criminal Court and no longer allowing 17-year-olds to be held in county jails like Rikers Island. We believe this is a significant step forward in safeguarding our sons in the state of New York.
Moving forward, we are also focusing on developing relationships with other critical groups that will help further our mission. We are seeking meetings with key Congressional and State legislators to educate them on MOBB United for Social Change and to explore how to partner with them. We have also identified other advocacy groups with similar missions and are reaching out to forge new partnerships with them to help drive policy change.
There are many subcommittees that drive our work and that would welcome your participation. Our Policy Updates subcommittee drives our research, to make sure we are always aware of the latest developments. Our Policy Message subcommittee ensures that we develop the most compelling, data-driven arguments and messaging to support our advocacy efforts. Finally, our Policy Strategy subcommittee ensures that we create and leverage the right opportunities to impact policies and successfully advocate for our sons.
Our efforts to advocate for better policies for our sons have only just begun. There are opportunities to change laws and policies at the local level by voting in new mayors, district attorneys and sheriffs who embrace improving law enforcement policies and practices or supporting critical state legislation that protects our sons. To do this, we need local mobilization from our members. We need YOU for this fight!
If you have the drive to seek policy solutions and be an advocate for your son(s), then please join the Policy Committee. If you have a background in law or policy, then the Policy Committee especially needs YOU! We meet every other week on Thursdays via conference call at 10 PM EST. For more information contact: email@example.com.