Orange County Justice United took action in 2022 on each of the top priorities we collectively set in fall 2021: Affordable Housing, Mental Health Access, and Criminal Justice Reform.
- We turned out over 650 members at our actions!
- Over 50 leaders organized over 80 research action meetings to shape the campaigns.
Leaders won $250,000 in Orange County ARPA funds, for an improved property tax relief option to low-income homeowners. Thanks to Justice United’s organizing in partnership with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center and EmPOWERment, Inc., this program now offers the most funding per household of any program in the state to help low-income homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes because of their property tax burden. With rising property taxes as one of the main drivers of displacement of low-income homeowners in Orange County, the program is a critical tool for preserving existing affordable housing in our community.
Find a full summary, photos, and testimony from the Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting here: https://www.ocjusticeunited.org/property_tax_update
Latino leaders organized over 250 Justice United members in an action to win commitments from Alliance Health (the private company that controls Orange County’s public mental health funds) to invest in bilingual, culturally appropriate therapy to address the mental health crisis in Orange County’s Latino community. At the Mental Health Public Assembly on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, Alliance Health committed to establish a public relationship to resolve the crisis, including investments in:
- A comprehensive mental health resource guide for the Orange County Latino community.
- Spanish-speaking and culturally responsive Community Health Workers to provide essential mental health interventions, including group sessions and workshops.
- Ensuring that Orange County’s proposed Crisis/Diversion Center hires bilingual and culturally responsive providers.
- Return to Orange County of El Futuro, the Triangle’s primary bilingual therapy provider.
- Recruitment and retention of bilingual therapists.
- View the Assembly photo album here
- Read The News & Observer's piece here
- Read the INDY Week's piece here
- Watch the Zoom livestream recording (in English) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fzdf2s-DEEs
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Organized by formerly incarcerated community leaders, court observers, criminal justice attorneys, and pastors, 350+ Justice United members won commitments from both District Attorney Candidates for more transparency, fairness, and diversion options in Orange County’s justice system. New DA-elect, Jeff Nieman, has already committed to give a community report-back on May 18, 2023, on his progress on the following commitments:
- Data tracking for racial disparities.
- Not prosecuting drug possession that's only for personal use (instead directing to treatment).
- Making diversion the rule.
- Creating a sentencing review process.
- Driver's license restoration program for drivers who lost their license because of not paying fees/fines.
- Ending racially-biased and wealth-based pretrial detention (not requesting cash bail unless there is a risk to the individual or community)
- Continuing and improving the deferral program for safe drivers without a license to avoid prosecution (originally a Justice United campaign with outgoing DA Jim Woodall).
- You can find the Zoom recording of the livestream here
- Read the INDY Week's coverage, "Orange County DA Candidates Pledge to Reform Criminal Justice System"
- View a photo album of the DA Assembly here!
- Read the full list of DA commitments here
Learn from and support local leaders who've been impacted by the justice system:
- Prison From The Inside Out: One Man's Journey From A Life Sentence to Freedom, by Will Elmore: https://www.prisonfromtheinsideout.org
- Success While In Transition (founded by Will Elmore and Tommy Green)
- Reentry House Plus, Inc. (programming coordinated by Will Elmore and Tommy Green)
- Wounded Healers (co-founded by Edward Scott; Will Elmore and Tommy Green serve on the board)
- Straight Talk Support Group (founded by Bessie Elmore; Edward Scott on staff; Will Elmore on advisory board)
- Community Based Landscapers (second chance employers), owned and operated by Edward Scott and Will Elmore: (919) 864-2175
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